There are two types of people in this world: those who acknowledge and celebrate “Hallmark Holidays”, and those who spend so much time rebelling and bashing them that they end up becoming the most active participants.
This day isn’t about ridiculing couples, or drowning in so much Merlot you end up arguing with your girlfriends over sending your ex a sentimental text. It’s not about crying because you’re “alone” or because at this time last year you were with someone you thought you’d marry. At least, it shouldn’t be.
Holidays have a way of evoking light controversy — especially as to why they exist in the first place. There are a number of tales claiming the inception of Valentine’s Day. Probably the most common of all says that Valentine, a jailed Christian priest, cured a young girl of her blindness. Before being beheaded on February 14th he supposedly wrote the girl a letter signed “From Your Valentine.” In the middle ages this became the day for Europeans to select their “sweethearts.”
Many scold each other for making Christmas about presents and materialism instead of celebrating the birth of Jesus. And although V-Day doesn’t hold a strong biblical connotation, we’re still guilty of curtailing and falsifying it. This holiday shouldn’t be about having flowers delivered or a box of CVS chocolates to unwrap. It’s not about dinner reservations or stuffed animals—although these have become the trademarks, and that’s okay.
Valentine’s Day is essentially the “Day of Love.” Yes, this day is known for commemorating couples. But Valentine’s Day is not about coupling up — it’s about love. It’s about celebrating its existence and what it means. Maybe it’s the love you have for a family member, a friend, a spouse, or a pet. Maybe the only love you have ever known is the love you’ve gotten from your parents. Regardless, although we feel differently about romance at varying stages of our lives, we all experience love; we all feel it in many different ways and in many different forms. It is (arguably) the best human emotion and one that can never be confined by a single, verbal definition.
This day does not authenticate or validate the strength of a romantic relationship, so it shouldn’t shed shame on singledom, either. No amount of rose petals and candles on this night will supplement having a successful relationship the remaining 364 days of the year, and no amount of self-sabotage will make you any less single when you wake up on the 15th. This holiday does not hold any real power.
So if you’re single don’t turn this into a heavy metal, black nail polish type of day. Rise above your defensive instinct to tell the world you’re better off anyway and every couple is tacky and you hate them. Be cliché and make your other single friend your valentine (just please refrain from the annoying social media posts about it). Make your dog your valentine. Or, be selfish. Wine and dine yourself. Watch a movie: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sex and the City, American Psycho. Whatever puts a smile on your face. Spending time alone on this “holiday” is fine and healthy so long as you don’t use it as an excuse to weep that you are going to be alone forever.
And if you are in a relationship, enjoy your restaurant reservations and romantic gifts. Appreciate the gestures and the fact that you’re lucky to have someone special in your life. And, most importantly, remind yourself that although you’re in a relationship, you are and always will be the most important person to love. Not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day.