Most teens and adults consider Valentine’s Day as a holiday of innocence and affection, but while modern Valentine’s Day is celebrated with flowers and candy, not many know that its origin was dark and even cruel.
Online sources explain that the Roman Emperor Claudius of 278 A.D. was a cruel and unforgiving ruler. He led vicious battles. He would rip young men from their wives and families, and force them to fight in his army. This meant that he had very unmotivated and homesick soldiers–not the best fighting force for a successful siege. So the Emperor decided to ban marriages all together.
Many church figures believed the law wasn’t ethical, and one took a stand against the decree. A young Roman priest named Valentine began marrying couples in secret. This secret activity caught the attention of Claudius, and Valentine was imprisoned. To thank Valentine for helping them, the couples would leave letters and flowers in his jail cell. During Valentine’s imprisonment, he fell in love with his jail keeper’s daughter. It is said that before he was executed on February, 14, he left a love letter for the girl and signed it “Your Valentine”. So the church canonized Valentine, and declared February 14, Saint Valentine’s day.
Modern Valentine’s day is about showering a loved one with flowers and gifts, but many today, both adults and teens, have mixed feelings about the holiday. Some believe that the holiday is outdated and overrated. Many argue that it’s too much pressure to perform for a significant other. According to a junior survey taken in two Honors classes at Hubbard High School, nearly 40% of two classes felt that the demands for candy, flowers and stuffed animals puts more emphasis on the commercialization of Valentine’s Day rather than on the feelings of love and affection themselves.
Big businesses take the opportunity to exploit people’s desire for the perfect Valentine’s day. According to online sources, candy companies make nearly $1.7 billion during the week of Valentine’s Day alone. Even with the outrageous amount of money spent per year on Valentine’s Day, it is still a questionable holiday based solely on people’s need to go out and shop or purchase online. The amount of money people spend on average for Valentine’s day is rapidly decreasing. According to the same sources, this year individuals spent, on average, $136.57. This amount may seem surprising, but compared to amounts spent by individuals in past years, it is a noticeable drop. In 2016, the average amount spent was $146.84. This means that there is approximately a 7% drop in money spent each year.
Perhaps if everyone recognized the background on this holiday, the commercial emphasis would shift from purchases to quality time spent with a loved one. In that way, all could honor St. Valentine’s sacrifice the best.