My Love-Hate Relationship with Valentine’s Day


While Valentine’s Day is controversial, the world could use a little more love (Courtesy of Instagram).

Feb. 14 brings me unnecessary discomfort. The other day I had to make a Target trip to get some bath towels and I didn’t realize I was going to be walking into a marketing campaign for a “holiday” that overuses the color red and convinces people to buy heart-shaped chocolate boxes. I did get my bath towels but also had to endure the sight of tacky teddy bears who were telling me “I Love You” and “You are Bear-y Special”.

 I would be lying if I said I never wished I had a valentine on Valentine’s Day. Maybe that’s where my discomfort with the holiday comes from and it’s the lack of love I’ve received on this day that has made me roll my eyes at any mention of it. Or maybe it stems from my sophomore year anatomy teacher, who told our class that Valentine’s day is a capitalist construct in which businesses profit off  a beautiful and complex emotion like love. She continued to say, “Love should be celebrated everyday, not just today.” She has a point, and part of me agrees with her. 

There is some discourse on the origins of this day, some claim it began with the Roman pagan festival Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a fertility festival held each year in Rome on Feb. 15, the bloody and violent festival involved animal sacrifices and sex play. Others claim that Valentine’s Day honors Christian martyrs who were executed by the Roman Emperor Claudius II on Feb. 14. Whether the holiday was a pagan fertility festival or a celebration of Christian history, how has it been reduced to chocolate, roses and Cupid? While there is an answer to that question, I don’t want to turn this into a history lesson. Ultimately, Valentine’s day came to be with the help of popular literature from Chaucer, Hamlet and mass-marketing. 

As a single person, part of me wants to reject this holiday and blame its inception on capitalism. The other part can appreciate the harmless celebration of love dedicated to one day a year. My anatomy teacher was right, love should be celebrated everyday. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the corny V-day cards, tacky teddy bears and chocolate that will make you sick after one too many. 

There are endless ways you can celebrate Valentine’s Day. The ideal day would be spending time with your significant other in, of course, New York City. This perfect day would begin with a brunch date at the famous restaurant Jack’s Wife Freda. This all-day bistro that serves American-Mediterranean cuisine has the cutest origin story: it was founded by two immigrants, Jack and Freda, who married in 1930 and immigrated to NYC together. They have three locations, Chelsea, Soho and the West Village, all of which offer indoor and outdoor dining. After brunch, you’ll head on over to your favorite NYC park of choice. Nothing beats a romantic stroll through Central Park, Prospect Park, Pelham Bay Park or Washington Square Park. Afterwards, head on over to Mace, a bar located in Greenwich Village that has made the World’s 50 Best Bars List. They offer spice-inspired cocktails in a cozy petite brick-walled space. After a few cocktails, what better way to end the night with a pizza pie from your favorite neighborhood pizza spot and a movie night? With the endless array of rom-coms you could possibly choose from, you can never go wrong with the Rob Reiner classic “When Harry Met Sally.” Quirky and sentimental, it follows two unlikely friends who keep encountering each other. The movie is touching, funny and will teach you a lot about love.

Although this day sounds amazing, I do acknowledge that not everyone has healthy romantic relationships in their lives. An issue with Valentine’s Day is the tendency to primarily focus on romantic relationships. A shift in culture is needed regarding Valentine’s Day. Instead of only celebrating romantic relationships, we should celebrate all the relationships in our lives. The most important being our relationship with ourselves. In my opinion, if there’s any type of love we should be celebrating on Valentine’s Day, it’s self-love. I will be practicing self-love this upcoming Valentine’s Day. The best thing to do is whatever makes you happy, whether that’s spending time with your significant other, your family, your best friends, yourself or doing nothing at all. 

We could all use some more happiness in our lives, and what better way to do that than focusing on our relationships with ourselves and practicing self-love? Treat yourself with a spa-day. You can choose between a cozy self-care night at home or splurge on a lavish massage and facial. Throw on your favorite music playlist full of empowering songs while you cook yourself a fancy dinner or order takeout from your favorite restaurant. Do some retail therapy or watch a movie about self-discovery (I suggest a Wes Anderson classic “The Darjeeling Limited”). 

At the end of the day, whichever way you choose to celebrate, remember to not take it too seriously. Valentine’s Day is controversial, some hate it and some love it. Some think it’s forced consumerist nonsense while others think it’s fun and promotes love and happiness. A little more love on Feb. 14 doesn’t hurt anyone. If there’s anything we need more in this world, it’s love.