Today, hearing the word “valentine” creates an automatic association with not only the holiday, but also all of the mushy-gushy, love-y and sometimes gag-inducing things the day entails. Yet, few people actually know or bother to know where the holiday for lovers originated.
Now, the problem with the origin of Valentine’s Day is that there are multiple theories as to how is came about. The most common comes from the ancient Roman and Christian tradition.
Long ago, in the third century of Rome when Claudius II was emperor, lived a Saint by the name of Valentine.
At the time, Claudius had come to the decision that single men were a better option for soldiers than those who had wives or children.
In an attempt to defy Claudius, Saint Valentine began to perform marriages for young lovers. Claudius was enraged and sent Valentine to death.
But there’s an alternate ending to this.
Valentine was sent to prison. While in prison he fell in love with a young girl who happened to be the jailer’s daughter, and thus the first message “from your Valentine” was created when he attempted to contact her.
While I’m aware that the backdrop to this holiday is a little ambiguous, the origins all have one thing in common — a man who was martyred, heroic and a strong proponent of love.
Today, Valentine’s Day has completely lost sight of the character of the man who started it all.
It’s no longer focused on the morals of true love or heroic sacrifice for the one from whom you care, but is now centered on a commercialized scheme that has consumers in a flustered search for flowers on Feb. 13.
According to a recent article, this year’s Valentine’s spending is expected to reach $17.3 billion dollars (and yes, that’s billion with a B).
With each person that is participating in the holiday averaging spending at $133.91 for candy, flowers and other various items that will be tossed away in a matter of days.
Doesn’t that seem like a lot of money for crap?
The sad thing about this holiday is not only is it blown out of proportion (and not to mention obnoxious) items, but the fact that it is bad for two kinds of people: those who are in a relationship, and those who aren’t.
For those who are single, it’s the pressure to find a date for the evening — or in some cases a large bottle of wine.
For those in a relationship, it’s constant pressure to create the perfect evening, while simultaneously trying to avoid the “you don’t have to get me anything” trap.
We all know if she says not to get her anything, you better not show up empty-handed.
When it comes down to it, love shouldn’t be limited to one day where you are forced to care. It should be displayed all the time.
Valentine’s Day overall has done two things: It has created a huge market for consumerism, and most importantly, pulled away from the meaning of love towards a materialistic approach at relationships.
Reach the columnist at Lauren.Klenda@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @laurenklenda