Editorial: The Heart of Valentine’s Day

by JESSICA MARONEY

Have you bought chocolates and flowers for your significant other yet? Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching which means it’s time to show your better half how much you adore him or her. The stores will be packed with all of the last-minute shoppers, frantically searching for perfect gifts to give their loved ones. It is crucial to find just the right gift, because if you wait too long and all that you can find is a stuffed teddy bear missing one eye, you may as well forget about it. Nowadays, only a respectable gift, such as a diamond necklace or a gold watch, will suffice. The expectation of purchasing expensive gifts to show people you care about them has become the “heart” of Valentine’s Day in our culture.

I wonder how many people know that Valentine’s Day is actually Saint Valentine’s Day. It is dedicated to a man who rebelled against authority in the name of protecting love. Though the story of Saint Valentine is shrouded in mystery, one legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Sadly, not many people recall the story of Saint Valentine. Like most holidays, the meaning of the celebration has been overshadowed by a lot of hoopla. The media dominates the entire month of February with jewelry commercials and other extravagant items. Over the years, the expectations for gifts have grown and the appreciation for those gifts has dwindled. Generally, people are becoming less generous and more narrow-minded during the holidays. We celebrate Valentine’s Day because it is a tradition, but the emphasis is on the wrong aspect of it. Buying gifts for people is nice, but it should not be required or leave you with an empty wallet.

The amount of money that your significant other spends on your Valentine’s Day present should not be a measure of their love; it should be a kind act worthy of appreciation. The expectations for expensive gifts has put a lot of pressure on relationships and caused Valentine’s Day to lose its meaning. We are supposed to show each other how much we care, but not by monetary means. Love is about spending time together, showing kindness and respect towards each other and always protecting each other; similar to how Saint Valentine protected the love of young couples in Rome. Valentine’s Day is about showing your loved one how much he or she means to you. Ideally, that can be done on February 14th, and on every other day of the year, without over-priced obligations.