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V-day sends mixed signals

February 14, 2011

By Sara Bottinelli, Staff Writer

Graphic by Kelley Lyness

Every year on Valentine’s Day millions of people around the world celebrate their love for their significant other by showering them with candy, jewelry and asking the familiar phrase “Will you be my Valentine?” But how many of us actually know what the term Valentine means or how this day first began?

The history behind Valentine’s Day has never been officially confirmed; however, there are several stories that give us an idea of who St. Valentine was and why he has been credited with this special day. The Catholic Church recognizes three different saints, who were referred to as Valentine and were all recorded to have been martyred on February 14. One of the stories says that Valentine served as a priest in Rome during the third century, who stood against Emperor Claudius II, who made it illegal for any young men to be married. Secretly, Valentine began marrying lovers in secret until he was caught and put to death.

Another story talks of the first “Valentine” greeting supposedly sent by Valentine himself. After being imprisoned it is said that Valentine fell in love with the jailor’s daughter and wrote her a letter signing it “from your Valentine.” This expression is still commonly used today. Although the truth behind the Valentine has some inconsistency, there is no doubt that Valentine was seen as a sensitive and caring figure who felt strongly about love between two individuals.

Some celebrate Valentine’s Day as a reminder of the death of St. Valentine in approximately 270 A.D. Others claim that the Christian Church decided to make a Valentines feast day in the middle of February to counter the recognition of the Lupercalla festival, which was considered a pagan festival. Lupercalias was a fertility festival dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture, Faunus and Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

In the 17th century Valentine’s Day gained popularity in Great Britain and by the end of the 18th century lovers began exchanging notes and tokens of affection which later turned into printable cards to replace handwritten letters. Valentine’s cards became popular in the United States around the 1700’s and in the 1840’s Esther A. Howland began the first mass production of cards in America.

The Greeting Card Association has labeled Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending day out of the entire year. It has been estimated that over 1 billion cards are sent every year and that 80 percent of purchasers are women.

Even with the popularity of this holiday there are still many who have been soured to its purpose.

A poll was given to 100 students at YHC which discovered that 11 percent of students considered Valentine’s Day “romantic,” 38 percent said it was “overrated” and  51 percent say it depends on the situation, such as if you had a significant other or not.

It seemed an overall opinion by the student body that Valentine’s Day has become a commercialized holiday and lost much of its intended meaning.

“I think that Valentine’s Day is a big hallmark holiday, and people have become very materialistic. We should show the people who are special to us that we love them every day and not just one day out of the year,” said Jill Tuttle, a senior English major from Blue Ridge.

Although, for people not in the dating scene, Valentine’s Day can be a reminder that there is no one to show their appreciation for.

“Valentine’s Day can be really special, but because it is geared towards couples, it can make those of us who are single feel left out,” said Jackie Hand, a political science major from Cedartown.

Many of the students were not aware of how Valentine’s Day even started. Austin Freeman, who is a theater major from Hartwell recognized that people can’t appreciate the holiday without knowing the intended meaning behind the holiday.

“Valentine’s Day is overrated because no one really knows who St. Valentine even was or what he is famous for.”

Many students agreed that Valentine’s Day should not be the sole reason that you show your love for someone. They shared that showing affection should happen throughout the year and should not be required only on one day.

While there are many students who believe Valentine’s Day to be overrated, there are still those who are committed to the holiday and believe in what it stands for. Those who have a girlfriend or boyfriend often appreciate the holiday a lot more than those who aren’t in a relationship.

“I think if someone has a boyfriend or girlfriend it is a romantic holiday. Valentine’s Day is pretty romantic for me because I have the best girlfriend in the entire world,” said Allen Lim, who is a sophomore athletic training major from Habersham County.

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