The day after Christmas I found myself walking into Target, ready to use the gift card my grandma had given me as one of my presents. As soon as I opened the door, I was taken aback by the red and pink decorations, the chocolates, ribbons, candles, flowers, and other little romantic gifts- Valentine’s Day!
While this holiday was still about two months away, and the remnants of Christmas wrapping paper and ornaments were still scattered across the store, I was puzzled as to how it was possible that Target had transformed seemingly overnight from a winter wonderland to Cupid’s castle.
There are varying Christian legends that exist regarding the origin of Valentine’s Day. Before being so quick to assume this holiday is all about exchanging gifts and acts of love, it is important to examine its roots.
As the tale goes, St. Valentine, whom Valentine’s day is named after, was a Christian martyr who is said to have died for the sake of the love of God. St. Valentine lost his life because of his belief in God and his everlasting love. Most of our modern Valentine’s Day traditions, however, derive from a pagan Roman festival which celebrated this murder.
Another tale explains that the holiday originated with the Roman celebration of the feast of Lupercalia. During the festivities, physically abusive men took advantage of women who believed they would be made fertile after suffering through the violence these men subjected them too. Couples were then paired off based on a lottery system which determined which men would be paired up with each woman. Over time, this dark tradition metamorphosized into a holiday of chocolates and time spent with loved ones.
Regardless of how society has transformed this holiday modernly, we should allow it to remain a celebration of true and pure love, as St. Valentine exemplified through his selfless sacrifice. While we should put our focus on the sacrifice St. Valentine made, society has converted the holiday to focus on material goods, adoration, and love from others around them.
It is time that we change our focus from the material aspects and pressures we associate with Valentine’s Day to the types of love that we can embrace, such as self-love, God’s love, love from a significant other, or from our family and friends. Valentine’s Day, which can be a day of dread for those who feel that they are not loved, can actually be celebrated as a day filled with varying types of love. Sometimes, however, it can seem that everyone has loved one to celebrate with but you.
What is vital to remember is that despite the love we do or do not receive from others, we need to take care of ourselves. Whether you have a significant other or not, it is necessary that you yourself reflect, decompress, and enjoy life. This can range from taking that time to self-reflect to buying yourself a cupcake to spending time with Christ throughout the day. It is so important that we love ourselves because God loves us- he created us, provided us our lives, and shows us mercies each and every day. We are blessed to take part in this life, and we should take care of ourselves as God would desire us to do.
Scrolling through Pinterest one day, I found a quote that said, “how cool is it that the same God who created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you too?” Even if it can be hard to love ourselves and take that time that we need to be with ourselves and God, we must remember that God’s love will never fail us, and hence we can never be alone. He took the time to create us, and decided that the world needed us in it too.
Even if we are not feeling all that loved this holiday season by the people around us, we can always remember that God loved us enough to decide that we needed to be a part of this life and this world.
Regardless of an individual’s relationship status or how they are choosing to celebrate this holiday, God’s love should ultimately be our greatest source of fulfillment. This Valentine’s Day, instead of getting caught up in the typical festivities, the pink and red decorations, and the urge to find a significant other, let us all try to take this holiday as an opportunity to remember the greatest love we could allow into our lives.
This holiday, remember that we can rest in Jesus’ love, as his love is greater than any other we could receive. In 1 John, 4:16, which states that, “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” we are reminded that God Himself is love.
God will show his everlasting love to us and in turn we should allow ourselves to dwell in the love of God. Through remembering God’s love, we can certainly learn to love ourselves, express love towards our family and friends, and take the time to show some love to the one who loves us the most!
Valentine’s Day affects individuals in varying ways. While some enjoy going out to dinner and giving gifts, others may choose to celebrate “Galentine’s Day,” and bake cookies at home with their girls! Whether with roses or a simple night at home, this holiday can be celebrated however you choose.
While it may feel like love is floating in the air, possibly for everyone but you, it is vital to remember that as individuals we need to focus not purely on the love from those around us, but self-love. Self-care is vital to our existence, as we are God’s creation and we are designed to share in his greatest and most perfect love for all eternity.
Especially as college students, who can often find themselves struggling, alone, or unloved, we need to prioritize the joy of ourselves and those around us. God has taken the time to create us after his divine image, and love every single one of us. This amazing gift of life demonstrates just how loving a God we are blessed to have in our lives.
When I find myself struggling, feeling lonely, or going through a tough time, it can be extremely difficult to get out of that rut. I have learned, however, that I am never alone. I have surrounded myself with individuals who uplift me and remind me of how loved I am. There are always going to be people who care and a God whose love and blessings are provided to me daily. I realized that even when I am not always feeling love from others, I had to learn to love myself and do my best to express love through kindness towards others.
Whatever your plans are for this holiday, it is important to take a step back from the chaos of Cupid and remember that loving ourselves is the key to living a happy life! With the love of God that surrounds us, it should be easy to love ourselves and extend that love to others. Notwithstanding the treats, or lack thereof, we may receive from others this holiday, why not remember how valued we are as individuals in God’s eyes? We are all important, and regardless of who we celebrate Valentine’s Day with, we must always remember that when we feel alone and it is hard to love ourselves, we can always seek comfort in God’s merciful love.