By Francesca Lewis
According to timeanddate.com, the origins of Valentine’s Day are unclear. It is believed that the original St. Valentine was a Roman priest who was martyred on or around February 14th, 270 BC. However, many believe that Valentine’s Day is the cleaned up, Christian version of the Pagan festival called Lupercalia, held February 13-15 each year. Lupercalia was a time when noble youths and other high-ranking people ran around naked, striking people they met with shaggy thongs. It was believed to “avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility” (Wikipedia). Nowadays, Hallmark and other commercial enterprises have rebranded Valentine’s Day to fit the capitalist, acquisitive society in which we live.
Regardless of its origins, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world; however, the naked rituals, have been replaced by less racy traditions. Many countries across the globe celebrate Valentine’s Day very differently than we do here in the U.S. According to an article from todayifoundout.com, in Slovenia, February 14th marks the beginning of the growing season and is when workers return to the fields. The country instead has a few other days throughout the year that they celebrate love.
In Japan, the holiday is still centered on couples, but chocolates are given from women to men, and the day is truly about a woman showing affection for her man. The womens’ holiday comes a month later on March 14th called “White Day” when the men return the favor and show their love by gifting their women with lingerie, jewelry, clothing and more expensive chocolate.
In addition to Japan’s White Day, South Korea introduced “Black Day” a month after White Day. The same article mentioned previously states that this day is to celebrate “the single people who didn’t receive any lovin’ on Valentine’s Day”. On Black Day, single people meet up at restaurants and eat a black bean noodle dish. Noted as a very romantic people, the Koreans have, in fact, made a romantic holiday on almost every 14th day of each month.
So what is the Fitchburg State population up to for Valentine’s Day?
Recent graduate Emma Weisman crafted a handmade card for her boyfriend. “I wasn’t planning on getting him chocolates,” Weisman said, “but a coworker gave me a big box that I re-gifted to him.” The suggestion came from another co-worker, she explained. The card featured a Chevy just like her boyfriend’s hot rod, driving down a chocolate road, which represented the Valentine’s Day tradition Weisman chose not to purchase.
“Valentine’s Day is one of the greatest holidays of corporate America,” Weisman said. “If you don’t get a heartfelt card, chocolates, roses, and a teddy bear saying ‘I love you’, there’s going to be a problem.” Though she claims not to care for Valentine’s Day noting that her boyfriend doesn’t either, she still received flowers, chocolates and a teddy bear.
Not everyone jumps onto the bandwagon of a consumerist celebration. Noah Paul, a senior film major, and his fiancée have been making Valentine’s Day special in a college-budget friendly way for the past few years. Paul has made it his own tradition to bake brownies for his love. The couple can’t always afford to go out for dinner, but they’ve “dressed up and danced in her room”, Paul said.
Mary Nojeim, a creative art student on campus painted a picture of Fenway Park for her boyfriend following the Red Sox World Series win. “It was hard to keep the painting a secret because I was so excited to give it to him,” Nojeim said. Of course, her boyfriend loved the painting and was totally surprised, she added.
Once a Pagan festival rebranded by Christians and then again by corporate America, it can be hard to resist the temptation to adhere to the stereotypical presumptions our society has of Valentine’s Day; however, some students at FSU have found meaningful ways to celebrate without spending frivolous money that they don’t always have.