How society has corrupted Saint Valentine’s Day

Julie Ambo, News Editor

Just recently, I saw a “Jumbo Cupig,” a dancing and singing swine with wings, heart-shaped nostrils and a heart-shaped belly button, at Hallmark, which reminded me of our upcoming furlough day on Feb. 14.  Call it Saint Valentine’s Day, The Feast of Saint Valentine or simply Valentine’s Day, I’m sure you’ve witnessed the bountiful collection of retailers’ attempts to make the most of this love-filled holiday.

Interestingly, the origin of Valentine’s Day stems from three main legends, all which root in Christianity.

According to one, a Pope Galasius initiated the tradition of Saint Valentine’s Day on February 14, 496 AD in honor of a young priest named Valentine.

Apparently, the emperor decided to forbid marriage because he believed that married men made inefficient soldiers. But, a bishop, Valentine, felt strongly against this decree and insisted that marriage is part of God’s will. In Proverbs it says, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” (Prov. 18:22).

This conviction led Valentine to betray the emperor and hold illegitimate wedding ceremonies in the name of love. Notorious for his many successes, Valentine was thrown in jail and sentenced to be beheaded.

Yet, days before his death, he, too, found love… with his jailer’s daughter. He sent her a note ending with “from your Valentine,” and from this romantic tale, the tradition of sending cards to loved ones has emerged.

In the course of about 1500 years, this celebration centered around love has strayed far from its religious beginnings. Do people even go to church on Valentine’s Day?  Most definitely not. Vendors use this holiday to attract consumers, not religious fanatics.

Furthermore, Valentine’s Day inflicts pain.

Maddy Pumilia writes that 50 million roses are sent out each year. Sadly, fifteen percent of these consumers are single women who, out of pity, buy the roses for themselves. Valentine’s Day equates pure torture as it emphasizes their loneliness and makes them feel unloved.

In Japan, it is a custom for women to give chocolates to their male coworkers. Yet, for the hoards of unpopular men, this supposed celebration is truly a day of degradation.

Ladies “rate” the men by giving them either cheap chocolate out of obligation, cho-giri choko, or  luscious, typically expensive chocolate, honmei-choko. Imagine every February, being forced to experience the many disadvantages of being disliked.

Even worse, for those who suffer during this time, businesses drag out the single day into months of torture. Starting in mid-January, Valentine’s Day merchandise graces stores as red and pink decorations adorn store windows. A mere glance at a sign touting witty conversation hearts can be a huge blow to one’s morale.

If a couple is in love, they don’t need Valentine’s day to express their commitment to each other; they should devote every day of their lives to carrying this out. So, why do we, society, make such a big fuss with lovey-dovey cards and whatnot? Love should not be about the tangible, but about the passion.

Back to religion, the second commandment in the Bible declares “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). So, isn’t it ironic that society uses a religious holiday founded on love to hurt others, even if its unintentionally?

Saint Valentine endangered his life for his comrades’ chance at love. Practicing teachings from the Scripture, he placed others’ desires over his own.

You can do the same. Make this Valentine’s Day 24 hours worth of spreading compassion to those around you. The two seconds it takes to compliment someone will leave a lasting impression on his entire day.  Even if you’re not risking your life, this seemingly insignificant step could be the beginning of a more agreeable, warmhearted world.