No, really. Why DO you? Have you ever given it much thought?
Yes, this is probably for many one of those “let’s not go there” topics. But we will go there, simply because I can.
Why do you subject yourself to the hassle of having to compete with other couples in your neck of the woods for limited slots and supplies of jacked-up and overpriced flowers, chocolates, dinner reservations, and other romantic gifts?
Why do you “celebrate” a pseudo-holiday whose origins are anything but romantic?
Though no one has pinpointed the exact origin of the holiday, one good place to start is ancient Rome, where men hit on women by, well, hitting them.
From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.
The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.
The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.
The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.
Hmm, yet another occasion steeped in pagan ritual and appropriated by the Roman Catholic Church, it seems.
So, again, why do you?
To “express your love for your significant other and to show them how much you appreciate them”? What makes this one day any more significant, or special, than all the other days in a year?
Cue in the sound of crickets chirping.
Because poets like Shakespeare and Chaucer tickled your fancy by romanticizing it. Because companies like Hallmark started the trend with cards for gifts.
Funny how there’s a “joke” about how Valentine’s Day is also known as Single Awareness Day. If you haven’t noticed, the acronym comes out as SAD. So does that mean that you’re supposed to be sad if you don’t have a partner on this supposedly special day?
What’s really sad is how there is a stigma associated with being along or single in certain societies.
What have our societies come to?
Gentlemen, if you use this pseudo-holiday as an excuse to make up for all the other days when you neglected your significant other, then do her a favor and go find someone else.
Ladies, if you suddenly become needy for gifts on a certain day of the year, just because society around you dictates that you do so, perhaps you better start rethinking your relationship status, don’t you think?
Let’s remove all pretense of political correctness. The reasons people “celebrate” Valentine’s Day can be boiled down to the following: because big business said so, because that’s just the way it’s been done for so long, and because not going along with it is simply not done in polite company.
What’s the alternative?
I say we express our love and appreciation for our significant others – but in a right and consistent manner, and for the right reasons. Riding the bandwagon of doing so, just because the overly commercialized circumstances of today force us to, hardly qualifies as a right reason.
I’m sure you know instinctively what that right way is. It just requires you to think beyond what you’re normally used to and exposed to in society, and media.
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