I love love. I love all types of love. One time in high school, my best friend and I laid out all of the Greek words for love and discussed and categorized them with their English synonyms. We talked about the translation and history of philia, eros, storge, and agape, and how they described our interpretations of love.
The Inuit people have something like 50 different words for snow, because it is so important and prevalent in their lives. I think it is wonderful how the same seems true in Greek, but with love. Love was so important to them that they needed several different words to articulate all of the types.
I think that type of energy should be that ingrained into our everyday life. I try to channel that by making a point in saying the words “I love you” often, because I believe we should have a type of love for everyone we come across.
I love love, and yet I am conflicted about celebrating Valentine’s Day.
It is a holiday that is supposed to celebrate love, specifically romantic love. St. Valentine is the patron saint of romantic love and lovers, after all. But the day has been so heavily commercialized to be strictly about your typical romantic, heterosexual, monogamous love that it upsets me.
I want to celebrate love in all its forms.
Now, I don’t want to criticize the fact that we have a day dedicated to celebrating love and romance—I have no problem with that. Instead, I want to examine how our culture has warped the concept of having a day to celebrate love.
Valentine’s Day feels too forced and commercialized to be sincere. Yes, chocolates and roses and jewelry are nice, but for those of us whose love language isn’t gift giving, it can be uncomfortable. We have been conditioned that gifts are the best way to show your love for someone—that spending money equals affection and appreciation.
And for single people, they can feel left out and ignored on Feb. 14 because they don’t have a significant other to celebrate the day with.
This has led to some aggressively rejecting the holiday in favor of spoiling themselves and their friends. This is great, but it can also foster negativity and spite towards the “happy couples” celebrating.
The holiday shouldn’t inspire a “Screw love, I don’t need anyone!” feeling. It should be unifying, not polarizing.
I appreciate the emphasis that is put on romantic love, because it is great and many people find it fulfilling. But I don’t like how it is the only type of love that people deem worthy of celebrating if you are to have a “proper” Valentine’s Day.
Many other types of love are more common in our lives. For example, we typically have more friends and family than significant others. They are called “loved ones” for a reason. We should celebrate all of the people in our lives, not just our significant other.
While my broad interpretation of the holiday may be skewing it from its original purpose of celebrating lovers, haven’t we skewed it enough in other ways?
That said, this is the first Valentine’s Day in a long time where I have not been single, and I can’t lie and say I’m not excited. I’m excited to spoil my significant other and spend time with him that is dedicated to saying how much we appreciate each other.
But I believe it’s important to emphasize your love for the other people in your life on Valentine’s Day.
So if you are single this Valentine’s Day, I want to encourage you to say “I love you” to the people in your life. Let your friends and family and pets and neighbors know that you love and appreciate them! And buy yourself some chocolates on Feb. 15, because they’ll be on sale. There are some small upsides to the over-commercialization of holidays.