Correction: The February print issue of this article (Volume LXXXIV No. 2) incorrectly attributed the graphic above to Evie Cullen. The correct illustrator is Felix Dolix.
Valentine’s Day comes with mixed emotions for many students at RHS. Some hate it, others love it, and some feel completely indifferent about the holiday. What has come to be understood as a day of romance and affection, oftentimes complete with candy and flowers, did not begin as such. Valentine’s Day originated in the form of a Roman festival called Lupercalia, held in mid-February. Some traditions associated with this festival included fertility ceremonies and the pairing off of men and women by lottery.
Near the end of the 5th century, the Pope replaced this holiday with St. Valentine’s Day. Although there are many legends about who Valentine was, it is unclear who the day is named after, as the name was given to several early Christian martyrs. It was not until the 14th century that February 14th became recognized as a day of romance. The concept of “valentines” did not begin until the 16th century and the first commercial Valentine was printed in the United States in the 1800s.
Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with gifts and cards exchanged between loved ones. At Ridgewood High School specifically, many students, including senior Grace McLaughlin, anticipate the singing candy grams by the acapella groups and other traditions with friends and family. One student always looks forward to Valentine’s Day so that he can “act like a four year old in front of all of [his] friends in relationships”. Even for those not in relationships, the holiday can be an enjoyable reprieve from the long long winter months. Many use it as an opportunity to appreciate their friends and family and acknowledge all the love they have in their lives.
However, some students do not share this same mindset. If you are not in a relationship, the holiday can serve as an unwanted reminder of your single status. The pressure and expectations of Valentine’s Day are largely due to social media. Seeing posts by friends or acquaintances can make you feel like you are the “only one” not in a relationship. Just as with many other holidays, it only amplifies the daily pressure to appear happy.
The commercialization of Valentine’s Day is another reason why many people dislike the holiday. Big companies make sure to market their V-Day products to everyone, whether in a relationship or not. The aisles of stores are filled with heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, signs encouraging people to “get that special someone something special” and splurge on gifts for their loved ones. Singles are encouraged to “treat themselves” this Valentine’s Day and buy themself a gift. Those who look upon the commercialization of Valentine’s Day as ignoble see the holiday as another excuse to buy unnecessary things, like cards, flowers, chocolates, and more.
Despite some negative opinions on Valentine’s Day, Americans continue to celebrate the message of love that the holiday honors. Despite the hyper-commercialization of the holiday and isolating feelings that critics say come with it, Valentine’s Day isn’t so bad. Having a day to celebrate the love in your life with family and friends is a perfectly normal, and fun, way to spend February 14th. After all, a day dedicated to spreading affection and love could be just what the world needs right now.
Caroline Loscalzo & Annie Probert
Graphic: Felix Dolix