Ah Valentines day. You either love it or you love to hate it. This hugely commercialised holiday of pink and red, adorned with roses, hearts and chocolates is one of the earliest holidays in the yearly calendar and whether your in a relationship or not, you suddenly feel the pressure of the day. There’s a build-up to it, when the shops start decorating their store-fronts and you face the blaring questions; ‘do you have a valentine?’ ‘what are you going to get as a gift?’ and perhaps most stressful of all ‘are you someone else’s valentine?’
Valentines day as we now know it is ENTIRELY manufactured to get people to spend money, while the roots of valentines day are actually far more diverse and are historically based in roman pagan beliefs to increase fertility which involved a lot of drinking, sex and random matchmaking; from a festival called Lupercalia if anyone is interested in researching it. And then with the sainthood of St Valentine (whose exact identity we aren’t 100% certain on) and then messages, or valentines as we now know them, appeared around the 1500s. By the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used, often including images of Cupid, the Roman god of love, along with hearts, birds and flowers, particularly red roses, symbolising of beauty and love.
There is so much focus on this holiday about ‘romantic’ love, and ‘sexual’ love. It means that we end up comparing themselves, their relationships or lack of relationship to other people. Social media, stores, celebrities, films and TV shows focus on the idea of the desired ‘perfect’ relationship (that doesn’t exist btw) and it places a huge amount of pressure on people. How we look, how we dress, how we spend our time, how desirable we are… it all becomes about what other people think of us or our lives.
Which got me thinking. I’ve always kind of hated valentines day. I think I’ve only ever had one boyfriend who gave me a gift and took me out on a date on valentines day, but other than that one year with my first boyfriend, I’ve never celebrated a valentines day with a significant other and I’ve always resented those who have. At first I though I hated the idea of valentines day, but what I’ve realised recently is that what I hate is the expectation the to be happy I need to be in a relationship and that other people need ‘evidence’ of that relationship. But celebrating other types of love is great. This isn’t me trying to say that you shouldn’t celebrate your significant other, but I really want to encourage celebrating the different kinds of love that exist in everyone’s life and they honestly do deserve celebration alongside romantic or sexual love.
I also know that this time of year is difficult for so many people for many different reasons, but I want to let people know that its okay. It’s okay if you find this day difficult, but you need to know that love is something that is worth remembering even when its sad. Love isn’t always cute and cuddle, or hot and steamy. Love can hurt. It can be painful, and scary and lonely. But love is an emotion that is always worth feeling. Love is what forms strong foundations, helps you to learn, to become stronger. Love is hard, but it’s also very real, and is also very present in your life, whether you realise it or not.
Whether its the love you share with your friends and family, the love they have for you or the love you have for a hobby or for your job. But most importantly, you need to celebrate the love you have for yourself. And if you feel like you don’t love yourself, take some time this month, in fact every month, to take yourself on a date and to treat yourself the way you’d treat a loved one. And practice saying loving things about yourself, about your actions, your feelings and your appearance. And while we’re at it, lets take time to tell those around us that they are loved too, because if we only save love for one day a year, then I think we’ll be doing the whole world a valuable injustice. Love is powerful. And doesn’t deserve to be lessened by the cheapness of a holiday focused on selling candy and teddy bears.
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