Valentines Day: What does it mean?

By MacKenzie Butler
Ah, the day dedicated to love, February 14th, or Valentine’s Day. The exchange of gifts between loved ones happen all around the world on this day, not just in the U.S. One would think that this holiday got its beginnings from a romantic story, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
As Roman and Christian legends go, there was a Saint by the name of Valentine that had three possible stories. One legend is that this Saint would perform secret marriages of Roman soldiers during Emperor Claudius’s reign- which was illegal at the time. The Emperor had him executed upon hearing about this, fearing that marriage would weaken his military men. Another Roman legend is that Saint Valentine helped persecuted Christians flee the city. There is also a belief that he sent the first “Valentine” greeting to a girl he fell in love with while in prison. Whatever the case may be, Valentine’s Day is one filled with many mysteries even in present day.
When you think of Valentine’s Day, who’s the first person that comes to mind? Your boyfriend? Girlfriend? Valentine’s Day in today’s age seems to be all about a significant other. And why is it that on this day we rush out to the stores to buy chocolates, candies, flowers and stuffed animals? How did this holiday have become so materialistic? In the U.S., the combined total for money spent on flowers in February 2005 was $397 million. In February 2006, the combined total sale of 28,772 jewelry stores in the U.S. was around 2.6 billion dollars. That is quite a bit of money for this supposed day of love, but is there more to Valentine’s Day than the gift giving?
Let’s go back to the true meaning of Valentine’s Day: love. Not just love for our partners, but what about love for our family, our friends? Why don’t we celebrate them, show them how much we care for them on this day? Tell your parents how much you appreciate them by giving a simple card. Tell your siblings how much they mean to you. Tell your friends how you wouldn’t be able to make it through your hardships without them and their support. Do you think it’s important to show our love to these people, without the materialistic items that seem to be requirements for Valentine’s Day? If so, we can make Valentine’s Day about our love for our family and friends.
But why don’t we extend our love to people less fortunate than us? Like love to the kids in third world countries who don’t have the comforts we take for granted on a daily basis. Love for people who are homeless, who go through daily trials many of us can’t even imagine. As individuals, we show our care for others by the most natural way we know: compassion. Compassion compels us to do wonders, it motivates us to do things we normally wouldn’t for others who are less fortunate. We should use our compassion, this natural compelling force inside of us, to give to those in need. We need to make Valentine’s Day about compassion for everyone in the world, not just the people in our own private world. Once we understand this, we need to turn our compassion into action. We can collect food, clothing, toys, and give it to the less fortunate. If you can’t give donations, then give your time, volunteer to help any way you can, as much as you can. Currently, Valentine’s Day is about Hallmark cards, and crappy chocolate, but maybe we can make it a little more special for those in need.