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Pavelko: America has a weird conception of Valentine’s Day

Pavelko%3A+America+has+a+weird+conception+of+Valentines+Day
Collegian | Trin Bonner

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

In elementary school, almost everyone grew up making mailboxes and trading pieces of candy with their classmates for Valentine’s Day. 

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In middle school, there was a shift. Instead of chomping down on candy, we watched as a select few received candy grams from their secret admirers. 

And then in high school, couples exchanged flowers and cute gifts for the holiday. Notes were shoved in lockers, and couples held hands as they walked down the halls.

Throughout the years, it has become obvious that the majority of people in the United States focus almost exclusively on the romantic aspects of Valentine’s Day. Big companies hone in on the heart-shaped chocolate boxes and stuffed animals holding messages like “ur cute,” while aisles are full of gifts and candy for lovers to exchange. 

“Putting so much pressure on the romantic portions of the holiday only serves to further ostracize those who are not in a romantic relationship when February rolls around.”

In fact, Valentine’s Day is defined by Britannica as a day for “lovers (to) express their affection with greetings and gifts.” This definition cements the fact that Valentine’s Day in the United States is dedicated to the romantic aspects of the holiday. While the romantic aspects of the holidays are valid and romantic relationships should be celebrated, it is actually a bit out of the ordinary when compared to similar celebrations in other countries. 

In Latin American countries like Mexico and Ecuador, they celebrate El Día del Amor y Amistad, which translates to “The Day of Love and Friendship.” Instead of being a time dedicated to only romantic relationships, this day actively encourages people to celebrate friendships and familial love as well. While romantic relationships are still celebrated, there is not a total emphasis on them. 

It seems like the United States is one of the only countries to stress romantic love on Feb. 14 instead of celebrating all kinds of love. It’s weird. 

Even the origins of Valentine’s Day do not relate to the concept of romantic love specifically. Some believe that Valentine’s Day started as an attempt to Christianize the pagan holiday Lupercalia. It was not until the Middle Ages that people started to link the day to love.

While celebrations in other countries and cultures have expanded Valentine’s Day to something other than romantic love, the United States seems to be stuck on the idea of romantic relationships during the holiday. 

This conception of the holiday excludes a large group of people who are not in a romantic relationship — almost a third of the country. According to the Pew Research Center, 31% of the adult population in the United States is single. Putting so much pressure on the romantic portions of the holiday only serves to further ostracize those who are not in a romantic relationship when February rolls around.

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So as Valentine’s Day comes around this year, we should take notes from other celebrations of love throughout the world and celebrate all the relationships in our lives: friendships, familial relationships, romantic relationships and even the relationship we have with ourselves.

Make those dinner plans with your partner. Give those cheesy cards to your friends. Call your family, and tell them that you love them. And buy a big box of chocolates for yourself, too.

Do not let the common conceptions of Valentine’s Day in the United States prevent you from appreciating all the important relationships in your life.

Reach Hana Pavelko at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @hanasolo13.

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About the Contributor
Trin Bonner
Trin Bonner, Illustration Director
Trin Bonner is the illustration director for The Collegian newspaper. This will be her third year in this position, and she loves being a part of the creative and amazing design team at The Collegian. As the illustration director, Bonner provides creative insight and ideas that bring the newspaper the best graphics and illustrations possible. She loves working with artists to develop fun and unique illustrations every week for the readers. Bonner is a fourth-year at Colorado State University studying electronic arts. She loves illustrating and comic making and has recently found enjoyment in experimental video, pottery and graphic design. Outside of illustration and electronic art, Bonner spends her free time crocheting and bead making. She is usually working on a blanket or making jewelry when she is not drawing, illustrating or brainstorming.

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