Valentine’s Day has changed significantly over the course of history, and it’s time for another revision.
Kyle Spencer | Managing Editor | @kyledspencer
Photo Credit: Gabi Campbell | @gabicampbellphotos
If we were celebrating Valentine’s Day as the pagan party holiday it began as in ancient Rome, the men here would spend part of the day trying to increase the fertility of young women by spanking them half-nakedly with goat hides.
That is according to historian Noel Lenski, who teaches at Yale University. Rather than fretting about what gift would accurately convey the love they feel for their significant other, or simply passing the day in a lonely stupor, these men were apparently more focused on their future heritage and dedicated the day to improving the likelihood of procreation.
How that celebration, originally named Lupercalia, morphed into a commercialized, monetarily driven holiday is anyone’s guess. Many historians, like Lenski, believe Christians adopted the holiday because of their reluctance to take part in the popular activities. By designating the Lupercalia festival days for Christian celebration, the official religion of the Roman Empire attached the holiday to the legend of St. Valentine, who was executed on Feb. 14 in A.D. 270 for performing marriages while they were forbidden under the rule of Claudius II.
Fast forward to present day, where it seems like everyone is either drastically outdoing previous efforts to express love with an extravaganza of gifts and romance, or sheepishly confining themselves to a happy place away from the sorrows associated with the societal pressures of a love day, and it isn’t abnormal to wonder why we observe a holiday so perverted by history.
What other internationally recognized day of recreation inherently excludes what is likely half the world’s population? Somewhere along the way of converting the conception-hopeful butt slapping festivities into a day that requires lavish offerings replete with fabricated sentiment society collectively decided that if you’re in love, you’ll enjoy this day, and if you’re not, well, better luck.
A single person who is sane will hopefully not be deterred from celebrating the day by the false pretexts imposed by popular culture. That person can express love. That person can be loved. That person can show his or her love. Which is why I’m done bitching and moaning about why the day sucks when you’re single. Instead of it being a reason to become numbingly drunk, I’m suggesting a new way of approaching the holiday as a lonely, errant soul.
If it were simply a love day and not a day that requires a certain valentine, we could stop pretending that we need to be loved more that day or that we have no hope for not being in a romantic relationship. Instead, we can find someone who we sincerely love and express that feeling through action.
So rather than attempting to increase our lover’s chances of being fertile, drowning a significant other in presents or filling our head with depressing thoughts of eternal solitary, let’s just enjoy the love that already exists—the one we feel for our caretakers, our confidants, our inspirations, our friends—and maybe we can find peace on the day clouded by capitalistic superficial demands.
Kyle is a junior at UVU, studying journalism. He works at KSL as a writer/content manager and previously wrote for weareutahjazz.com. He is originally from Colorado Springs, Colo., where most of his family resides. In his free time Kyle enjoys hiking, playing the sports he writes about, reading and obsessively following his professional teams, to which he is unwaveringly loyal. You can follow him @kyledspencer.