History, traditions, economics and personal accounts of the holiday
Sophomore Sophia Raveling is getting ready to connect to her laptop, log into Zoom and celebrate Valentine’s Day, which is usually a time for young couples to be together and celebrate their love. But for Raveling and her boyfriend it gets a bit complicated.
Raveling’s boyfriend is over 4,900 miles away. In the Netherlands.
Valentine’s Day has evolved from a Middle Ages-era small religious holiday into a modern-day worldwide celebration of love and friendship by people from different religious beliefs and backgrounds.
“Usually I am single over [Valentines Day],” Raveling said. “This year I actually have a long-distance boyfriend, so we are planning on having an all-day facetime and making ourselves dinner.”
Even though Raveling said it will be difficult to be apart, she appreciates that technology is available to keep them close.
“It’s honestly going to be really hard and sad for me, but it’s OK,” Raveling said. “At least we can still stay connected and share a Valentine’s Day this year being apart from each other. It also kinda sucks since a lot of my friends can see their boyfriends or girlfriends and I can’t. It’s pretty difficult, but I still do it out of love.”
Celebrities also take Valentine’s seriously. Country music singer Kasey Musgraves is holding a concert on Valentine’s Day at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. She is on tour for her album “Star-Crossed,” and Dallas is scheduled to be one of the stops. Sophomore Cara Lichty is planning to attend.
“I got my sister Kacey Musgrave tickets for Christmas,” Lichty said. “We love her music and albums, and I have heard that she is really great in concert. I looked into getting tickets and discovered that the concert falls on Valentine’s Day, so I thought that would be a fun way to celebrate.”
Valentine’s Day has evolved into a celebration of friendships as well. Girls often have Galentine’s Day, a holiday or event for girls to honor their friendship. This day was created by the popular TV show “Parks and Recreations” in 2010.
Lichty, who is planning on attending Musgrave’s concert, plans to celebrate Galentine’s with her sister, senior Emily Lichty.
“I participate in Galentine’s Day [because] it’s a fun tradition that gives me an excuse to do something with my friends,” Lichty said, “Valentine’s Day is such a fun holiday, so I [like] to be able to dress up and have fun with my friends.”
As with many holidays, there is an economic aspect as well. Businesses use it as an incentive to draw customers into their sites or brick and mortar stores. The holiday is the fifth largest spending day of the year and the average person spends around $165, according to TheBalance.com. Valentine’s falls fifth after Christmas, New Year’s, Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving.
Some, though, don’t see Valentine’s as a day to spend big.
“My wife and I aren’t big gift people,” sophomore dean and English teacher Phil Bryan said. “So she thinks it’s romantic when I bring her flowers and chocolates on the day after Valentine’s Day, when everything is half off.”
Most at ESD seem to have a similar stance to Bryan as of a poll taken on Feb. 7 where 77 percent of people said that they spent less than $50 on gifts, while only 7.6 percent said they spent over $100.
According to The Daily Meal, a food website, 58 million lbs of chocolate are bought within the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. Valentine Cards are also a major staple of this holiday. According to History.com, 145 million cards are mailed every year before the holiday. Cards began to be mass-produced in the 1840s by Esther Howland, who was an artist credited with popularizing Valentine’s Day cards, according to Time Magazine.
While some would rather buy a manufactured card, others think a hand made card shows a higher appreciation for the recipient.
“I am going to make my boyfriend a card because it feels more personal and from the heart,” sophomore Charlotte Wilson said. “I enjoy making cards because it makes the gifts more meaningful, especially if it is handmade.”
Valentine’s Day was originally named after Saint Valentine around 270 A.D, but in the Catholic faith, there is more than one Saint Valentine. There are many different legends according to History.com. One legend has Saint Valentine performing marriages while it was illegal, another accounts that he aided Christians from escaping persecution under the Roman Empire. Either way, Saint Valentine, like his holiday, is known for love.
Valentine’s Day joins other holidays such as Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day as a holiday that began as a religious celebration and then transformed into a pagan holiday celebrated by many.. This phenomenon has been caused by a multitude of circumstances.
“Broadly, it seems to be rooted in both human spirituality and in economic opportunity,” upper school Reverend Father Nate Bostian said. “Spiritually, humans find meaning and beauty in romantic love and how two people can create a life together, which can turn into creating a family together, which in turn shapes the fabric of history. In our culture, we also have a highly advanced form of market economy that finds market niches to profit from. And so, wise and skilled entrepreneurs and corporations have taken these traditions and used them to maximize profit. So the synergistic effect of human spiritual needs and human economic innovation makes these holidays huge.”