Valentine’s Day is often associated with a sweet innocence and romance that many holidays lack. Filled with roses, chocolate, and gifts, it often brings a flurry of excitement and love to many people. Yet, when romance strikes on February 14, Valentine’s Day can come along with several issues that need to be further discussed in today’s society.  

The holiday can be a great experience with a significant other, but for people struggling with being alone, emerging out of a fresh breakup, or dealing with the loss of a loved one, the season can be extremely difficult. Valentine’s Day can even have a toll on mental health, especially when advertised so much. Seeing hearts and flowers and all the “sweetness” of Valentine’s Day can just further ingrain loneliness and sorrow if you’re spending the day alone. Lucy Benoit (11), says, “It’s good for people to express their love, but it puts unnecessary pressure on single people.” 

The whole season is surrounded by decor, cards, gifts, chocolates and more. The holiday as a whole is extremely commercialized and contributes to worthless materialism. Much of the merchandise is not only putting unnecessary pressure on singles, but it also contributes to the growing problem of non reusable plastics and trinkets that most likely end up in oceans or landfills. Valentine’s Day was made popular by the famous card company, Hallmark, in an attempt to earn revenue by convincing couples that they needed to spend money on each other to prove their love on Valentine’s day. This tradition continues today even though it promotes flawed values that one can buy love and that in order to be truly happy you have to be in a relationship. 

Going even further back in history, you find roots of the holiday that prove to be even more problematic. Before Valentine’s Day was created in the third century A.D, the Romans celebrated a Pagan holiday, Lupercalia, falling on February 15. This holiday revolved not around romance and sweetness, but rather around sex, violence, and warding off the infertility of women. The holiday consisted of the sacrificing of a goat, a dog, or an animal that represented sexuality and fertility. The Luperci feast followed, where men cut thongs from the animal skins and then whipped women with them while running around town naked. They believed that the whipping promoted fertility in women. People would often be coupled up randomly for the night, which often resulted in rape. While this was several thousand years ago and society had a completely different view of what was moral and immoral, celebrating a holiday that is most likely based off of a day that consisted of rape and violence is extremely problematic in today’s society. 

This holiday has roots of sexism that stem from years that women had barely any choice in who they married. The name most likely originated from the Norman celebration in France of Galatin’s Day, which meant “lover of women.” Although now, the holiday and society as a whole has progressed, we still see gender stereotypes and traces of sexism that accompany the season. The idea that all women want is flowers, chocolate and gifts in a relationship is a flawed idea that continues to this day.

With the right mindset, Valentine’s Day can be a sweet day filled with romance as many people wish for, or even just a nice day alone or with friends. But we need to abolish these imperfect ideas that are connected with the day, and move on from our history gracefully, while still recognizing the sexism, violence, and materialism that many experienced on this day many years ago.

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