It’s that time again, y’all. Valentine’s Day is almost here!
…This generally means you’re either chomping at the bit in sweet, sparklified anticipation, or you’re shaking in your boots with the deepest kind of existential dread.
There don’t seem to be too many people who simply feel neutral about Valentine’s Day. Folks tend to either be all about this holiday of amore, and do it up to the nines with candles, red roses, and Shakespearean love sonnets on replay, OR they’re in the other camp, and an extended vacay with Lord Voldemort looks downright fluffy compared to the dauntingness of making it through another depressing V-Day. There tends to be a pretty striking dichotomy in ethos as to how people relate to Valentine’s Day.
Whether this holiday floats your boat, or is the angry 17-ton narwhal that decides to jump INTO your boat with you, I’d like to offer an ‘Option C’ perspective with regards to how we might consider to relate to this holiday of the heart. What I’m wanting to illuminate is not even quite a “middle road;” it’s more of a road off the beaten path that leads up and away, in an entirely different direction, to a hopefully-more-spacious vantage point from which we might gain empowerment to CHOOSE how we relate to Valentine’s Day, from a place of our own truth.
The Day of Hearts: A Cultural Perspective
The reason that so many people have such polarized ways of relating to Valentine’s Day is this: it’s a holiday not only tinted in red no. 40, but also completely saturated in expectation energy.
Expectation that you’ll receive red and pink heart-shaped cards in the mail. Expectation that it will be perfect, with candlelight and Frank Sinatra crooning in the background. Expectation that your beloved will surprise you with roses. Expectation that your beloved is even around. Expectation that you even HAVE a beloved. Expectation that you even have a freakin’ mailbox, should a Valentine’s card want to find its way to you.
And the painful implication that if any/all these things don’t happen, YOU HAVE FAILED. AS A HUMAN BEING. (It’s loud social programming in our culture.) And are thereby destined, on Valentine’s Day, to scowlingly take the recycling out; scowlingly watch a horror movie by yourself to help somehow homeopathically offset your mood; and scowlingly call it a night at 7pm.
Or even if all the rote Valentine’s things DO happen, and the whole plethora of socially-requisite Valentine’s accoutrements have been painstakingly checked off the list, there’s the painful implication that if it doesn’t go perfectly, or that if you could have possibly, humanly done even more for your beloved, and you didn’t, YOU HAVE STILL FAILED. Do not pass go; do not collect $200. And definitely no more candy hearts for you.
Well. Spoiler alert: Valentine’s Day was created into a Hallmark cookie-cutter holiday only so that Hallmark and the cutters of cookies could make money. I’m here to remind you that actually, you can make Valentine’s Day your own. In a way that is just right for you and your own heart, in its own wild, wonderful, whimsical ways.
The Auspicious Origins of Valentine’s Day
To this point, Valentine’s Day actually has some interesting history that is worth considering; history that might inspire you to create this Valentine’s Day in a vibration of your own truth. The very, VERY Reader’s Digest version of the history is this:
There was once an ancient Pagan festival celebrated in Rome around this time of the year, called ‘Lupercalia.’ According to legend, in this drunken celebration, the fellas sacrificed a goat (for fertility) and a dog (for purification). Then, with the hides of the animals they had just slain, they would gently whip the scantily-clad (if clad at all??) young ladies, who would enthusiastically line up for this of their own volition, believing this rite would increase their fertility. The other part of Lupercalia included a matchmaking lottery, in which people were coupled up together for the festival and often ended up being coupled for much longer, by choice, if the match was right.
The takeaway from this: while getting beaten by goat and dog hides is not my thing (though maybe it’s yours…?), let’s keep Valentine’s Day at least a little weird. Let’s keep it interesting. Deviate from conventionality and Hallmark sentiments, and make it something off the beaten path for yourself. Celebrate love and make it your own, in your own revelrous, celebratory, magical way. Even celebrate the fertility within you, as a creative soul! And I’m not necessarily talking about fertility in the classical sense of creating a baby. I’m talking about fertility in the sense of the potential for what can grow through you that you can share with the world, whether that looks like an idea, a poem, a new dance move, or a new way that the kindest, truest words have ever been expressed.
The other piece of history to note about Valentine’s Day revolves around St. Valentine, the official patron saint of lovers, epileptics, and beekeepers.
While there are several accounts of who St. Valentine may have been, the mostly-agreed upon saga of St. Valentine is as follows: all religious dogma aside, St. Valentine was a guy who stood up for his own truth, and was sentenced to a torturous death for believing what he believed in. He was given the option to change his beliefs, which would have spared him his life, but he declined this option. While imprisoned, waiting for impending torturous death, he healed and restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailor, a child who had befriended him. Before his death, also, he wrote her a letter with love and gratitude for her friendship, signing it, “Your Valentine.” (And thus, the birth of Valentine’s Day cards as we know them today!)
The takeaway from the tale of St. Valentine: Valentine’s Day can be seen not only as a day centered around love, but also as a day of being true to yourself, no matter what. Of strong grace. Of taking a stand for what matters to you. Of doing so with consciousness, conscientiousness, so much heart, and your own signature panache, flair, and pizzazz. Of doing so because it’s your own truth and you care and it matters to you. Of embodying the very best and most courageous of what humanity can be. Of offering the spark of love, hope, and healing for ourselves and each other, even—and especially—in the midst of times that might be feeling a little dark or dire.
V-Day: Your Own Way
Through this lens, we can reframe Valentine’s Day for ourselves. We can each claim it as our own, in our own unique way. If you’re not into red and pink, reclaim Valentine’s Day for yourself in your own signature colors. YOU get to set the tone of how you want to relate to this holiday, and what you want it to be about. If you want Valentine’s Day to be all about your love of dinosaurs, get thee to a natural history museum and proclaim the National (for you) Day of the Mighty Parasauralophus. Get unique with it.
So, in this oh-so-Aquarian month of February, consider the oh-so-Aquarian energy of creating this holiday in a way that’s your own. Of being unabashedly, unapologetically, shiningly yourself. Of standing up for what you love and believe in, in whatever way you love it or believe in it. It doesn’t have to be the romantic version of love. There are an infinite number of colors and flavors and tonalities of love.
Any presuppositions about what Valentine’s Day is supposed to be, as a Hallmark holiday: chuck those out the window. All the rules are off. You get to make this holiday about whatever/whoever you want it to be about. Do it on your own terms, and in the tone of what brings you maximum joy, beauty, and inspiration, even—and perhaps, especially—in the midst of the chaos of the world we live in right now. Allow yourself to pick the things that light you up; that make you come alive; that set your heart on fire; that make your spirit soar. Also, remember: expressions of love don’t have to be about other people. They can be for yourself too.
Above all, allow this holiday to be something that’s allowed to be real and true for yourself—expressions of sweetness, love, and genuine care don’t have to cost a dime, and don’t have to be in the fakey, artificial vibrations of red no. 40 or the cheesy love poems printed on chocolate candy bar wrappers. Make it as pure as water, as natural as air, as innate as movement for yourself. It could be as simple as offering a kind, clear-seeing gaze to a stranger; planting a tree; dancing to your favorite song; or calling your nearest and dearest to thank them for being so wonderful and special, and to tell them you love them. Love can look like many things. It can be all the things. Make it true to you.
And! Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be confined to the people, places, things, geographies, or timelines we know. Let’s think way outside the box this Valentine’s Day, and bring a lot of space and possibility into what tends to be a holiday tight and riddled with confining expectation energy. You can make the entire world your valentine. You can even make the entire history and future of the world your valentine!
In the midst of a seemingly ever-increasingly chaotic world, we’re all in this together, perhaps more than ever before. And a little sweetness, a little care, a little consciousness, a little conscientiousness, and a little kindness for ourselves and everything around us—plus a whole lotta permission to think way outside the box, along with full creative license to dream big and go for it—all goes a really long way.
Above all, I wish you this: may your Valentine’s Day be filled with endless inspiration, infinite possibility, joyful creativity, authentic and revelrous ways of dreaming new dreams and inventing new ways forward on both individual and collective levels, and the expression of love, strong grace, and embodying the very best of what humanity can be in your own unique, one-of-a-kind way. May you create this Valentine’s Day in the vibration of your own truth. And may you enjoy the subsequent ways that both you—and the world around you—will bloom to the light created by that vibration.
So, everyone. Let’s get this party started!
Roses are red
Violets are blue
May this Valentine’s Day
Be about what’s true for YOU!