Deputy features and opinion editor Sarah O’Mahony explains how Valentine’s day is not just for the hitched.
Upon deciding that I was going to write this article I googled the title as I often do. Let me surprise you, it is a very popular hot take. There appears to be a large number of people out there who are mildly obsessed with Valentine’s day. What can I say? Love wins? Love conquers all? How about a day devoted to love is needed, especially given the current state of the world with the invasion of Ukraine, the climate crisis and so much more. From the history of Valentine’s day to self love in a less cringey light and forcing my friend’s to celebrate Valentine’s with me I’ll try to discuss different ideas to the ones I wrote about in my last love themed article. Mildly obsessed did you say?
Valentine’s day has a somewhat muddled story between the Ancient Romans, the Catholic Church, Shakespeare and Hallmark cards. Much like your situationship’s muddled interest in buying you chocolates. Its origins lie in the Christianisation of the violent Roman celebration Lupercalia. Since then the famous playwright Shakespeare romanticised the day and industrialisation introduced factory made cards into popular culture. Next time you pick up a Hallmark card you might look at it a bit differently.
Maybe you are not as supportive of the idea of Valentine’s day as me. All the same you can’t shy away from the benefits of self love when you feel the world around you is crumbling. Maybe you don’t really get the ‘treat yo’ self’ mantra of Tom and Donna in Parks and Recreations and you are looking for something a bit more logical. Audre Lorde first came up with the idea of self care as a radical idea where minorities would spend time looking after themselves in order to further their activist causes and prevent burnout. If you think that hopping in a bubble bath for a bit of self love on Valentine’s is a little silly maybe consider Lorde’s thinking. Lorde was a black lesbian mother battling cancer. Her book A Burst of Light contains many iconic quotes where Lorde details looking after herself as well as engaging in activism. Self care comes in many shapes and sizes. Lorde’s version might suggest sitting out of a volunteering activity in the face of the detriment of your own health. Or simply creating time for a shower when you’ve spent the whole day running after your kids. Since Lorde’s book self care has separated quite a bit from its political origins. I was introduced to the phrase by Penney’s graphic t-shirts and micro influencers. Self care can be for small reasons such as buying yourself a takeaway on Valentine’s as a single person. Or it can follow Lorde’s thinking and help balance your time and support your rally against oppression. Silly and serious can live in harmony. All the same I’m glad I learnt about Lorde, she was one bad ass woman. I can’t imagine she would deny you your bubble bath when you’re feeling a bit down.
Now for my silly enjoyment of self care. It’s Valentine’s Day 2021, I’ve been talking about Valentine’s to my housemates for two weeks. Jane thinks it’s a bit weird but doesn’t want to hurt my feelings. I’m putting pink eyeshadow very generously on my eyelids. Inside the Franciscan Well even the bartender asks what the four of us are doing together on Valentine’s night while surrounded by couples. Next we hit the road to McDonalds. All I can say is it was a gas evening and I would do it all over again. There’s something about the 14th of February that freezes my inner pessimist, makes me giddy and up for making TikToks outside McDonalds in the cold. I am aware it’s a bit awkward to announce Valentine’s as your favourite holiday as a single person. Whatever your opinions, that night produced lots of laughs, comments from strangers and brilliant TikToks with my friends. What more could you ask for?