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Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Celebrating Valentine’s Day
Elena Gonzalez

It’s February, the shelves of every store are stocked with red, pink and white items of all sorts. Stores are sporting cartoon hearts and cheesy expressions of affection, a harbinger of the month’s holiday: Valentine’s Day.

Depending on who you are, Valentine’s Day’s boisterous, candy-colored approach can bring emotions ranging from positive to negative. The holiday is chased by an unofficial “Single’s Awareness Day” for a reason, after all. The focus on romance is front and center in all the marketing that makes up Valentine celebrations, from the cards to the chocolates. 

Even for couples, the day to celebrate their love might be filled with mixed emotions. Long-distance lovers, closeted LGBTQ+ couples or even those who stress over gifts might feel out of rhythm with the seemingly perfect couples on social media.

The pressure to celebrate the holiday to the most of its potential is very real; the average amount of money spent on Valentine’s Day has only gone up since the rise of the internet age, with comparison to how others celebrate being easier to access than ever. 

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Elaborate parties, gifts and picture-perfect dates posted by influencers push the narrative that in order to show one’s love for their partner, they either go big or go home. This influences all parties in a relationship, not just the gift-giver. 

With expectations and standards set moon-high, no one ends the day happy; instead, it’s important to celebrate the holiday in ways that fit your relationship. Quiet, casual dates can be just as appreciated as something exquisite.

It’s also important to remember that love comes in more than just the form of romance, and for those feeling left out on the festivities, that means you don’t need to be valentineless if you don’t want to be. The Greek language has three words for the different types after all and all of them are still love.

The alternative holiday, Palentine’s Day (or, originally, Galentine’s Day as it was referred to in the show that started it, Parks and Recreation), a platonic counterpart to Valentines, has gained popularity in recent years. Celebrating friendships and platonic love provides a strong alternative for those who might find themselves without a date, be it by choice or chance. 

Family, biological or chosen, deserves to be celebrated too. The love given by those close to you is precious and even the companies that front romance have learned this — card aisles in stores sell more than just flirty pickup line emblazoned cardstock now, with sections for family and friends that only get larger every year.

Even pets are included in the celebration of love, with cards jokingly sold as being “from dog” or “from cat” and all sorts of festive toys and treats.

The culture around the holiday is one that has grown and shifted over the years, from paper Valentines to e-cards to texts and social media posts. Valentine’s Day has changed with the landscape of the society around it.

The holiday is what you make of it, in the end, so take it as a chance to simply celebrate those in your life who are precious to you.

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