A couple holding hands, excited to express their love on Valentine's Day. Photo by Manuel Carranza.
As we approach Valentine’s Day, the annual discussion of whether or not it is a “real” or meaningful holiday emerges. Many feel as though Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a glorified national date night. But when presented from a new perspective, Valentine’s Day is a staple holiday in the United States with a meaning that carries far beyond romance.
Aside from the overpriced flowers and heart-shaped chocolates, the meaning of Valentine’s Day goes much deeper. One does not need a fancy dinner or romantic gifts, or even a significant other in order to celebrate Valentine’s Day, as the true celebration lies in the appreciation of loved ones. Whether it may be a significant other, a friend, family member, or even a pet, the essence of Valentine’s Day lies in your heart and not in how others choose to celebrate it.
To say Valentine’s Day is not a “real” holiday compared to other famous holidays, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, discredits the purpose of all major holidays in the United States. Each major holiday shares two roles in the United States: to bring people together and to encourage consumer spending. Valentine’s Day serves both these purposes as consumers go out to eat with each other, as well as purchase gifts as a token of appreciation to their loved ones.
“Working in the flower business makes you realize just how significant Valentine’s Day is. We raise all of our prices and our sales still go through the roof,” said Cara Carlson, a freshman undecided major. This goes to show how businesses thrive on the opportunity that Valentine’s Day provides across the country. Just like Christmas helps retail with the concept of gift giving, and Thanksgiving helps the grocery industry with eating together, Valentine’s Day helps various industries through the concept of appreciating your loved ones.
There will always be people who refuse to believe Valentine’s Day is a “real” holiday. This belief typically stems from the idea that the holiday is reserved for those privileged enough to be in a romantic relationship at this time of the year. When looked at from this perspective, Valentine’s Day can seem like a conditional holiday that only manages to make people feel lonely if they are without a significant other to celebrate with.
Yet, this is far from the purpose of this holiday, as it is simply a celebration of love in its purest form. Remember in grade school when everyone exchanged cards and had a blast? No one has outgrown that concept. Rather, people have let how others celebrate the holiday dictate the meaning of it. Deep down, whether people are second graders or graduating college, the drive to celebrate the people we love will always remain at heart.
This Valentine’s Day, do not worry if you do not have a person to go on a date with. Go out to eat with a friend, call your grandparents, or even treat yourself to your favorite relaxation activity. Valentine’s Day is a celebration of pure, unconditional love and only your heart should be able to dictate how you celebrate.