Maungca: Unpacking Valentine’s Day

"MAY date na ba ang lahat?"

"Nakatanggap ka ba nang bulaklak today?"

Social media was filled with mixed posts and memes of lovers and single individuals (#selflove) on February 14.

Some posts are in celebration of their love for each other; others are about having a laugh and being lighthearted about being single.

But before we delve right into the topic of love, perhaps it’s apt to know a thing or two about Valentine's origins.

Valentine's Day is an annual celebration of love and affection that is observed on February 14th. The origins of this holiday are rooted in both pagan and Christian traditions. The etymology of the name "Valentine" is derived from Saint Valentine, a Christian martyr who was executed in the 3rd century AD.

The celebration of Valentine's Day began as a Christian holiday in the 5th century AD, and it was first associated with romantic love during the Middle Ages.

The practice of exchanging gifts and cards on Valentine's Day is thought to have originated in the 15th century. Over time, Valentine's Day has become increasingly commercialized, with the sale of cards, flowers, and other gifts generating billions of dollars in revenue each year.

Critics of Valentine's Day argue that the holiday has become overly commercialized and that the pressure to buy expensive gifts and engage in romantic gestures can be detrimental to people's mental health and relationships.Suffice to say, the celebration of Valentine's Day is good for the economy.

According to Friedberg, R. D. (1990), many people report an increase in depressive moods following holidays. Although this research is dated a few decades ago, this underlines the social pressure and human need to be loved, to feel warmth, and to be appreciated. It gets worse today.

We now live in a hyper-connected, easily-accessible — albeit more neurotic — society through the advent of social media, which makes it easier to see and be seen.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement towards more inclusive and socially conscious celebrations of Valentine's Day. This includes efforts to support local businesses and artisans, prioritize meaningful and sustainable gifts, and celebrate a wider range of love and relationships, including friendships, familial love, and self-love.

Many people are also using the holiday as an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for social and environmental causes.

Ultimately, the history and meaning of Valentine's Day are complex and multifaceted. While the holiday has certainly been shaped by commercial interests and societal norms, it also has the potential to be a meaningful and transformative celebration of love, compassion, and connection. May this also be a reminder to spread love and kindness beyond Heart’s Day and make it a daily habit.*


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