Why did society decide on a random day in the middle of February to not-so-subtly require couples, particularly the man in heteresexual relationships, to *prove* their love for one another by showering each other with gifts of flowers and chocolates? And why is it typical in most rom-coms for the woman to feel bad if they're not a recipient of said gifts?
Well, let me give you a little history lesson. Apparently Valentine's Day dates all the way back to ancient Rome, although its origin story is shrouded in mystery. Also called St. Valentine's Day, one popular theory is that the holiday stems from the Lupercalia festival, celebrating "the coming of spring, including fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery." Apparently, young men drew the names of women from a jar: The couple would then be *coupled up* "for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right." Successful matches often ended in marriage, in fact.
It was recognized as a day of romance around the 14th century, however formal messages aka valentines only appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s commercially printed cards were in use—and February 14 has not been the same ever since.
But why have we placed so much emphasis on celebrating relationships on one specific day each year? With the number of anniversaries and special dates we have to remember—first date, first kiss, engagement, wedding, the list goes on—why are we adding yet another note to our existing mental calendar?
I don't know about you, but the type of relationship I'm looking for isn't built on commercialized expressions of love. For me, it's not about the wining and dining, the flowers and the (over)priced chocolates. Rather, it's about how my partner and I spend the rest of the 364 days in a year. It's about enjoying a mix of the magical and the everyday moments, the day-to-day "boring" stuff interspersed with birthdays or career milestones.
You see, I'd rather have someone who shows up day in and day out in small ways that truly matter—like giving me a warm hug when I need it, or leaving a sweet note in the book I'm currently reading—over a partner who thinks one grand gesture a year is all the romance we need in our relationship.
I'm definitely not saying one can't do both—surprise you with grand gestures but be sentimental with the small stuff—and this is a judgment-free zone: If you're looking for that Grand Gesture Person™, then that's your preference. But for me, I appreciate those moments in life that become special even if you don't originally make them out to be. Be it singing along to our favorite song, making our morning coffee and tea together, or texting (or calling) to wish the other sweet dreams, I live for those.
Valentine's Day on social media feels like an Instagram highlight—you only share the best of the best, and the rest don't make the cut. Hidden from that double-tap worthy carousel full of sweet photos is that adorable messy-just-out-of-bed selfie your partner took to greet you good morning. Not mentioned in the lengthy and senti caption are the whispered convos kept private just between you two.
If the 365 days in a year of your relationship were a K-drama, then V-Day would be that cliché kiss under the rain scene (sans umbrella, of course). It's that one sweet scene among a million other small-but-just-as-memorable ones, but it's not meant to be the climax of your entire relationship.
In case you need a reminder: It shouldn't matter how you celebrate this one day each year, but how you treat your partner (and your relationship) for the rest of the 364.
If, like me, you decide to opt out of celebrating Valentine's Day, it's not a poor reflection of your supposed lack of care or love. Yes, surprising your partner with a big bouquet or box of chocolates can be sweet, especially if their love language is receiving gifts. But equally sweet is making each day you spend with them memorable in small but significant ways. The V-Day packaging may be pretty, but remember that together you probably have countless other meaningful moments that don't come in as pretty a package. They ARE just as noteworthy, though, and that's what matters.
So before the next Valentine's Day comes up, why not try making the rest of the days in between feel momentous and unique? Turn the ordinary into the unforgettable, and treat your partner like every day is February 14th. Live and love like each day is a new day—and see where that takes you two.
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