This past month we all experienced February 14th, Valentines Day, the national day to express love. How did this day get established? Many historical accounts hold that it was St. Valentine of Terni, a bishop, for whom the holiday was named, though it is possible two saints were actually one person. Another common legend states that St. Valentine defied the emperor’s orders and secretly married couples to spare the husbands from war. It is for this reason that his feast day is associated with love.
Formal messages, or valentines, appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used. The first commercial valentines in the United States were printed in the mid-1800s. Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman god of love, along with hearts, traditionally the seat of emotional love. Because it was thought that the avian mating season begins in mid-February, birds also became a symbol of the day. Traditional gifts include candy and flowers, particularly red roses, a symbol of beauty and love.
The day is popular in the United States as well as in Britain, Canada, and Australia, and it is also celebrated in other countries. In the Philippines it is the most common wedding anniversary, and mass weddings of hundreds of couples are not uncommon on that date. The holiday has expanded to expressions of affection among relatives and friends. Many schoolchildren exchange valentines with one another on this day. India’s government-run animal welfare department has appealed to citizens to mark Valentine’s Day this year not as a celebration of romance but as “Cow Hug Day” to better promote Hindu values. There is an activity for you, go hug a cow!
Valentine’s Day has long been one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the United States. In the second half of the 1800s, particularly after the Civil War, the celebration was a major event in the United States, surpassed only by the popularity of Christmas.
As mentioned, the holiday was also commercialized in the late 1800s with businesses printing and selling pre-written Valentine’s messages. Around the same time, people started giving candy and flowers to loved ones or going on romantic getaways with their partners. Many couples opt to spend the holiday together, either having a romantic lunch or dinner or going out of town for the evening where they can really focus on one another. Groups of single friends, especially women, also have celebrated the holiday together, focusing on their friendship, community, and other forms of love.
Valentine’s Day is generally for those that have loving relationships that can share the traditional activities. But what about the single person, like me, who has no loving relationship or family that they can share a love holiday. Well, such a traditional love day can be a great opportunity to indulge in fun activities, whether it’s a solo dinner or some self-care. Just because you don’t have a significant other doesn’t mean you can’t commemorate this “love” day with some self-love.
It is easy to focus on what we don’t have when we’re feeling down, especially about being alone, isolated, or single. Instead of giving into self-pity, remind yourself of certain aspects of your life you are grateful. Do you have amazing friends and/or family? Do you have a profession that makes you feel valued and fulfilled? Take time to appreciate all the good things in your life. If we focus on the positive and gratitude, we will help cultivate positive thoughts and feelings toward others and ultimately make it easier to be genuinely happy for them and ourselves. Hatred is evil and love, especially self-love, is positive. This is very achievable by changing your perspective and being positive. You can see love in others as inspirational which motivates you to achieve your own goals, including a loving relationship.
Are you looking for a loving relationship? I am and I find myself being isolated in my very warm home with a good book or movie. If achieving love is a goal, which it is, then we need to grow and expand our experiences. Socialization is critical for our own mental health. Reach out, try something new, join a spiritual or neighborhood group. There are many things that one can do to work towards the goal of achieving a loving relationship. We have to understand where our emotions are coming from and not judge them harshly. A very good way to deal with some of those emotions is to talk with friends, family, or professionals about how you are feeling. Letting out those negative uncomfortable emotions can bring clarity and peace of mind so that ultimately, genuine happiness can blossom from within and we can move towards achieving loving relationships.
“I need somebody to love,” sang the Beatles, and they got it right. Love and health are intertwined in surprising ways. Humans are wired for connection, and when we cultivate good relationships, the rewards are immense. There’s no evidence that the intense, passionate stage of a new romance is beneficial to health. People who fall in love say it feels wonderful and agonizing at the same time., which can be stressful. It takes a more stable form of love to yield clear health benefits. Most of the research in this area focuses on marriage, but many of the health benefits extend to other close relationships, such as a partner, parent, or friend. The key is to feel connected to other people, feel respected and valued by other people, and feel a sense of belonging.
Love, particularly love that develops into a committed relationship, can have a positive impact on overall health. A few of these benefits include: decreased risk of heart disease, less depression and substance abuse, lower blood pressure, better stress management, a longer and a happier life. Developing a committed love relationship clearly Adds Life to Years.