By Helee Shukla
From pagan rituals to Christian martyrs, the origins of Valentine's Day lay in ancient tradition and mythology dating back to Imperial Rome. There exist several legends outlining Saint Valentine’s heroic role in bringing love back to a war-torn society, one theorizing that he secretly joined couples in marriage when Rome’s emperor at the time outlawed marriage for men, or prospective soldiers. Regardless of the true origin of Valentine’s Day, it is universally a celebration of romance and love.
Saint Valentine also provided assistance to persecuted Christians and attempted to convert the Roman Emperor Claudius II to Christianity. As a result of Claudius’ frustration, Valentine was beheaded on February 14. The date soon was commemorated as a day of love and is celebrated as a Christian feast today. However, according to some historians, these legends are mostly unfounded, and Valentine’s Day only started embodying love with the popularization of Geoffrey Chaucer’s poems that were known as “valentines” written to love interests.
As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, some traditions persist, like writing notes to loved ones, while others are constantly being introduced by social media trends, like DIY arts and crafts projects. A tutorial for origami flowers went viral on TikTok, catching the attention of users that were interested in making the holiday personal for their loved ones. Similarly, tutorials for constructing paper hearts and note boxes have also been trending.
“I think TikTok trends influence people to create better ideas and adding their own interest to it, helping it become something of their own. I saw a lot of cute DIY gift ideas like making custom pottery paints,” senior Jemi Mathew said.
On the other hand, with the rise of corporate involvement in leveraging trends for Valentine’s Day, some people believe the holiday is being commercialized. Companies often advertise limited-edition gifts and products to drive sales and consumer excitement, making some buyers feel pressured to buy trending, expensive goods. This feeling of obligation contributes to the incline of Valentine’s Day spending in the US; the average person spent $60 more last year than they did 11 years ago.
Artwork by Shadia Zayer
Modern-day consumerism has made some students feel Valentine's Day is a monetized and holiday for Americans.
“Valentine’s Day is propaganda; big corporations control the holiday. Like other holidays that once had meaning, all that matters about Valentine’s Day now is spending money,” junior Shyler Fernandes said.
Taking these factors and their individual interpretations of the holiday into account, students have divided opinions on how they feel about Valentine’s Day.
“I don’t like Valentine’s Day because why should you love your partner extra one day of the year? Everyday should be Valentine’s Day, but I have nothing against people who support it,” junior Angelina Alias said.
“I’m looking forward to celebrating the holiday with my boyfriend and seeing the school get decorated for PS I Love You,” senior Caley Caleca said.
“Regardless of the true origin of Valentine's Day, it is universally a celebration of romance and love...”
The rich history of Valentine’s Day founded on martyrdom and romance stories has evolved today to include the extensive impact of market-control tactics and social media trends. Ultimately, Valentine's Day means different things to different people, and whether it is perceived as a celebration of love, a commercialized holiday or both, it remains an important part of popular culture.