By Herman M. Lagon
Ah, Valentine’s Day, that annual celebration of love that descends upon the world like a sweet tsunami, shredding hearts, visiting florists, and opening chocolate boxes in its wake. From hazy tales of crucified saints and secret Christian marriages, this day has evolved into an unrivaled celebration of everything heart-shaped. However, as we maneuver through the deft dance of hopeless romanticism and cynicism, it is important to go deeper into the meaning of this day that goes beyond the bling and flowers.
Surprisingly, it all started with a priest named Valentine in the dank, dark passageways of ancient Rome. Valentine had a fondness for secret marriages, which he disobeyed by marking with a defiant flick of his holy water. period travel to the 14th and 15th centuries, when the idea of courtly love enthusiastically welcomed Valentine’s Day. It was a period when dashing knights wrote love letters to their pretty maidens, and the original Valentines were probably not exchanged in recycled paper envelopes.
Let us not fool ourselves, though. Valentine’s Day as it exists today is far different from its honorable beginnings. A long cry from the selfless sacrifice of its patron saint, today’s Valentine’s Day is defined by calories and carats. People can go to extremes on this day—from the man who breaks up with his girlfriend because he did not get the right “cut of rose” that he wanted, to the woman who breaks up with her boyfriend for not getting her the right color of roses that she wanted.
But despite the widespread commercialization, Valentine’s Day has a deeper meaning that honors love in all of its magnificent manifestations. Romantic love undoubtedly has its place in the spotlight, but we also need to remember the importance of unconditional love within families, friendships, and the most revolutionary kind of love all: self-love. Valentine’s Day provides an opportunity to recognize and treasure the relationships that bind us to one another, no matter how messed up or imperfect, in a world that frequently feels divided.
This brings us to the beauty of accepting the flaws in love. A skeptic of love is not a cynic; rather, it is a realist. It enables us to approach relationships with maturity by realizing that the most genuine connections do not always occur beneath a full moon or during prearranged periods. They are found in the peaceful mornings spent together over a cup of coffee or chocolate, in the laughter that ensues from a joke told, and in the quiet comfort that comes from true company.
So let us peel back the layers of commercial pressure or lustful expectation as we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Instead of using this occasion to glorify idealized love in one end or randy love in the other end, let us celebrate the love that is already present in our lives in all of its imperfect beauty. Irrespective of your relationship status, this day serves as a poignant reminder that love, in all its manifestations, is a cause for joy and celebration.
Love is after all not limited to starry-eyed lovers, chocolate connoisseurs, or racy “extremists.” It is for the stranger who smiles at you on the street, the parent who supports you without conditions, and the buddy who texts to check on you. We are all bound together by love, and Valentine’s Day is just one small piece of the enormous tapestry of human experience.
So let us celebrate love, the crazy little thing that drives people to poetry and lunacy, makes the world go round, and, yes, sometimes makes them announce their unwavering love with a dramatic gesture. Not only is it the energy that demands kindness, generosity, and truthfulness from us on February 14th, but it is also, let us not forget, the force that exists every day of the year.
Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.