A shattered heart symbolizes the tumultuous culture and history of Valentine’s Day. / PHOTO COURTESY OF FLICKR

Whitney Walmer
Associate Arts & Culture Editor

Are you going out to get some fancy chocolates, reserve your special dinner, and/or are wondering about what you are going to do for your special someone on Valentine’s Day? Before you do, hear me out – I am going to do you a little favor, and explain where Valentine’s Day began, and what it means. When it all started, there were no fancy dinners, heart-shaped candies saying, “I love you,” or even remote appreciation for your special someone on just one day, especially when you can show love to your partner every day.

Back in the sixth century B.C., there was a Pagan festival called Lupercalia, which to some, may be distasteful. The festival took place on Feb. 15, and involved the priests who followed Romulus and Remus gathering in a cave named Lupercal. If you know of the mythology of Romulus and Remus, it may sound familiar, as it was where the she-wolf had taken care of them. 

The priests would then sacrifice a goat for fertility, then a dog which was considered a symbol of purity. After the goat was to be sacrificed, it was stripped of its hide and then dipped into the blood of the dog. The ritual continues with the crops and women being lightly hit with the hide, done to give the rite of fertility. 

In fact, there was the belief of luck for that year with their fertility. It is stated the names of the women who took part in the practice were matched up with mates, usually resulting in marriage.

But as time changed, so did the values of the people, and the festival was thought unjust. Yet, romance was not associated with St. Valentine’s Day and its customs until 270 A.D., when it was said to replace Lupercalia, as it was not considered to be of Christian values.

The real Saint Valentine stood for what he thought was just. Emperor Claudius II thought that young men who were single made better soldiers, as they had nothing to return home to. With that logic, he then outlawed marriage for his own benefit to gain a better army.

Saint Valentine, as I stated before, stood for what he believed, and thought that marriage was a union between lovers. In keeping those young hearts who could not be united by law, Saint Valentine went ahead and married them in secret. The man 

risked his life to foster the love of others. 

When I was young, I was always told that the most valuable gift that you could give someone is your love. Forget all of the cheesy gifts, oversized teddy bears, and flowers; the pressure of buying gifts is not needed.

But what do gift-giving and celebrating love for one day do? Burn a lot of money, of course.  Where an average for each gift is around $187, a study conducted by the Finder states that Americans will spend approximately $27.9 billion on gifts.

I also feel that Valentine’s Day pressures single people into finding someone to share the day with, so they are not alone on the “Day for Love.” For single people Valentine’s Day tends to be pestilential because they say they looking, don’t seem to be having luck, or maybe just went through a rough breakup. The atmosphere for a single person could be irritating, there is an obscene level of anxiety that comes with the day that isn’t necessary.

Couples should not feel obligated to go out and do something special; they could express their love every day without a specific commercial holiday telling them to do extra for their partner in just one day. So…. Valentine’s Day is overrated.