All Kind’s of Valentine’s

The rumors of the origins of the infamous Valentine’s Day are murky and endless. Has there always been a flying diapered baby shooting spiked arrows at innocent civilians? Doesn’t he have to go to kindergarten? And surely he can’t whip up that arrow concoction on his own; he’s not even legal.

But regardless of the mystery of Cupid, the legacy of the confirmed Roman Catholic founder of Valentine’s Day, priest Valentine of Rome, lives on today in the form of candy hearts and chocolate roses.

But most people don’t care about or question the past, the history of the dreaded-slash-beloved Valentine’s Day; most people, out of the ones who even care at all, are more worried about the present (“Are homemade cake pops creative enough?”; “Is this tweet cryptic enough to make people think I have a date tonight?”; “What do you mean, P. F. Chang’s is all booked?”) and the future (“Next year I am not wasting 12 bucks on the latest Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation”; “This is my last single Valentine’s Day”; “I’m officially cutting out chocolate. After today.”).

A lot of this anxiety comes out of fear and embarrassment of being single, but honestly, the holiday seems just as stressful for those who are in relationships or in that texting-talking-are-we-aren’t-we phase.

In fact, I would argue that, in some respects, single people have it easier. No stress over that perfect balance of whatever it is that so many people want to portray to one another on Feb. 14. Unfortunately, not a lot of single people agree with me and continue to use Valentine’s Day as a chance to nervously-laughingly-defensively-vocally acknowledge their singleness before anyone else has a chance to call them out on it.

But does anyone else really care? Doesn’t all of this worry, both from those single and taken, all stem from the desire to make other people feel or think a certain way about you? That you’re the perfect baker or date-planner or fearlessly independent?

The day tends to make people focus on what should be, when really it is enjoyed at its best when it is celebrated for what it (now) is: a celebration of love. (Wait, keep reading!)

But feel free to interpret that as you will.

Sometimes love is going out to a hole-in-the-wall diner with your five best friends and laughing more than you eat. Sometimes love is receiving a mass-produced Pokémon Valentine card from your eight-year-old brother in the mail. Sometimes it’s locking yourself in your room and watching your favorite trashy reality TV show, uninterrupted for once.

And sometimes it is a romantic candlelit dinner for two, followed by chocolate-covered strawberries and Tiffany’s boxes. Whatever floats your boat.

Sure, there are enough complaints to be had about Valentine’s Day, too.

The media and consumer culture haven’t exactly caught up to the fact that romantic, heterosexual love is only one of the endless possibilities of defining a relationship. It’s a day that can make more than just single people feel excluded, in all of it’s commercially heteronormative glory.

But hey, love is specific to each one of us. And you might not need a giant, pink, annual excuse to let someone know they’re important to you, but there’s no harm in one.

Karam Johal is a third-year women’s studies major. She can be reached at johalk@uci.edu.