By Kate Formeller
My favorite holiday of the year comes in just a couple weeks — Valentine’s day, a day full of romance and bliss. Perhaps it is my favorite because my dad proposed to my mom on Valentine’s Day — but maybe it’s because every year since I can remember, my Dad buys my mom and I roses or a teddy bear with a personalized card. He never failed to remind us of how important we are in his life. He made me feel loved and cherished. But where do the Valentine’s expectations come from anyway? Simple, they are warped and sensationalized by the media.
Classic romance movies like “The Notebook” or “Titanic” set the bar very high when it comes to love. For instance, writing a girl a letter today is unheard of, especially 365 of them. Even a simple text everyday seems a bit too much to ask for. Therefore, the notion of risking one’s life in freezing waters to save your one true love, is just completely out of the question. Thus, the bar has become distorted and unreachable. Not to mention, teddy bears, chocolates, flowers and everything pink begin to bombard you in the beginning of January, in a store near you. The cherry on top is the relentless commercials for chocolate-covered strawberries or jewelry that is now on sale.
Americans spend more than $220 billion on Valentine’s Day with an estimated 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate sold. Valentine’s Day has become a commercialized day full of expectations that may or may not be reached. So, for the sake of this column, let’s bring it back to its roots.
The first “valentine” was written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans. He was writing to his wife while being held prisoner in the Tower of London during the Hundred Year’s War. He wrote her 60 letters while imprisoned, yearning for her love. This has certainly sparked interest throughout America, including in Urbana, with the popular tradition of handing out Valentine’s Day cards by all ages.
In elementary schools, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by passing out handmade or store-bought Valentines to your classmates. The children look forward to giving and receiving their cards along with the candy that is often attached. In middle school, Valentine’s Day is often celebrated by bringing edible treats to in-school festivities. When I attended Urbana High School (class of 2014), Valentine’s Day was celebrated and cherished. Candy grams were sold at lunch – one could buy a bag of candy with a personalized note which would be delivered to a significant other or crush. This brought a celebratory, caring atmosphere to school. Many students also brought flowers to give to their significant other or friend before school as a reminder of how they appreciate one another.
However, as you get older Valentine’s Day remains just as important and anticipated. I encourage you to put the customary commercialized, media-warped Valentine’s Day aside. Chocolate-covered strawberries and jewelry do not have the sentimental value as a simple but meaningful “I Love You.” When I was a sophomore at UHS, I made my boyfriend a giant Valentine out of poster board and spray painted it hot pink. It is important to let everyone in your life know how much you care and appreciate them. It is not about just receiving. Communicate the love and respect you have for your loved one whether it be through a letter, text, or word of mouth, or even a candy gram. Relish the moment, and the meaning of a Valentine’s Day: A day to celebrate your love, full of romance and bliss!
Editor’s Note: Kate Formeller, 19, is a 2014 Urbana High School graduate and a freshman at James Madison University. She studies social work and hopes to become a cognitive behavioral psychologist.