Valentine's Day: When Did It Become About Romantic Love?

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Many of us are critics of Valentines Day, whether it's because you hate the constant reminder that you’re single or you're confused about what to gift your partner at the current stage of your relationship. On the opposite end are those who love everything about the time of year, preparing with roses and red heart cut-outs months in advance. Whether you love or hate Valentine's Day the holiday has a different meaning at different stages of your life. Let’s examine the different meanings of Valentine’s Day and what it tells us about love. Together, we’ll expand our idea of love on this special day.

The origin of Valentine’s Day is usually glimpsed over in elementary schools at the time of your first exposure to the holiday. The day is a celebration of the martyr Saint Valentine who fought for the expression of love in the third century. At a young age we are taught to celebrate the day in a communal way; bringing valentines for all people in your class and sharing your favorite things - usually candy - with one another. At this stage we are taught to love our community, to share love in unrestrained ways and without any ulterior notions.

As we get older and into the world of romance, the idea of Valentine’s Day shifts. From this point it becomes common to celebrate exclusively with a partner and romantic love becomes the focus. This lens of Valentine’s Day celebrates the couple, and quite frankly, it can make single people feel left out. Different variations of the celebration like Galentine's Day bring back the communal aspect from childhood to adulthood.

Whether you start a new tradition this year or plan an evening for your special someone, Valentine’s Day should be a moment to share love with those around you and most importantly with yourself. Don’t let societal norms tell who you can give love to on this day or where you should receive it from. The holiday is a perfect opportunity to invite love into your life, and we encourage you to find new ways to express love with yourself, friends, family, and strangers.

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