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Putting an End to Valentine’s Day

Is that love in the air? Or has popular culture just blasted us with so many ads that at this point all of our senses are slightly numb and ringing? Could the smell of love actually be the smell of advertisement overload?

To write this post, I took a personal inventory and discovered two things. First, I have no idea of the history behind Valentine’s Day. Secondly, I am extremely apathetic about the entire holiday. My fiance and I have made the tradition of getting each other socks for Valentine’s Day (countercultural  and practical, AmIRite?) but other than that we don’t celebrate it. So to write this article, I had to do a bit of research, and figure out what Valentine’s day is, and what I should think about it. 

To begin, although it is named for “St. Valentine,” (which we will address shortly) the holiday itself has roots that extend before the Christian Church was formed. According to the History Channel, it was originally a raucous Roman holiday celebrated in mid-February called “Lupercalia.” However, the Church wasn’t a big fan of this (not a surprise) and revamped the holiday as “Valentine’s Day.” But who was this St. Valentine?

There are a few options, but the best of which is probably the St. Valentine who was sentenced to death for performing secret marriage ceremonies when Roman Emperor Claudius II banned marriage, because he believed that single guys made better soldiers (bold claim on his part). This option would have a morbid sense of irony about it, death, love, etc. etc. But the holiday itself really took hold when the Pope Gelasius made a decree honoring this Valentine (we think) for being all about love when the “Man” is putting you down.

Then, as with all traditions, it began to get a mind of it’s own. Eventually, Valentine’s day cards became a tradition in England, then moved to the United States. Cards became mass produced, then chocolate became associated and then flowers. Next thing you know, the average American now spends $130 dollars a year on Valentine’s day (that’s a lot of socks). 

So what is Valentine’s Day? I guess in it’s purest form, it is a celebration of a guy who stuck up for marriage when the Roman Emperor tried to ban them. So that is pretty cool I guess. But in it’s not pure form, i.e. what it is today, it seems like Valentine’s Day has morphed into another occasion for a consumeristic society to try to insinuate your value depending on how much your significant other spends on you. Or, if you are not in a relationship (which is perfectly normal, by the way), you are shamed into thinking that there is something wrong with you, because you’re not in a relationship. What a conundrum. 

Thus, my conclusion. I’m not a fan. Love should be celebrated, but this isn’t a celebration as much as being guilted into buying flowers, or spending more money than you should on jewelry. In a healthy, God-honoring relationship, you should be celebrating love everyday, because you are a part of something that is glorifying to God. You should be treating each other with the upmost respect and care always— not just when the t.v. tells you to. And if you’re not in a relationship, then again, I don’t think you need Valentine’s Day. You’re perfectly fine the way you are. No human’s affection or devotion will make you complete (which is the lie that it would seem is sprouting from popular culture at every turn). Rather, what is fulfilling is your relationship with your Creator. Affirmation from a boyfriend or girlfriend is great yes, but you’re not an incomplete person without it. 

This Valentine’s Day, make sure to tell your significant other, or your family, or your friends how much you care about them. But just do it because you care about them, not because you are being guilted into it by chocolate companies. In fact, why don’t you go ahead and tell them on the 15th as well. 

James Harris

James is probably the 3rd or 4th funniest guy you know. Funny enough to invite to a party; not witty enough to talk about later. Co-Founder and Content Editor of Everyday Exiles, Director of College Ministry at Reynolda Church, EPC, and husband to Meredith. He has a dog named Calvin, a cat named Opie, and a robot vacuum named Alfred.

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