In the words of famed social psychologist Pat Benatar, “love is a battlefield.”
Indeed, it seems that every year around February 14th, two camps pitch metaphorical tents and lob pithy arguments at one another, as both the happily romantically involved and the victims of SAD (singles awareness day) weigh in on the relevance or irrelevance of this candy-hyped holiday.
Fact or Fiction: discerning the reason for the season
Curious as to the origins of this spat, I went one deeper and checked out the origins of the holiday itself. My discoveries were surprising, to say the least. The only definitive fact about the origin of Valentine’s Day is that it honors two Christian martyrs (both named Valentine, of course) who were executed in the second and third centuries A.D. Not only is there no evidence for some mystical monk sending love letters between star-crossed lovers: the notion of an amorous holiday recognizing violent religious persecution seems utterly… well, unromantic.
The most prevalent unsubstantiated myth suggests that Valentine was a priest who performed secret marriages for soldiers legally bound to celibacy. Even this less-bloody story, like the martyrdom story, indicates a more important, more universal theme than the Hollywood-ized version of Cupid and candy hearts: the survival of love in the face of adversity. Faith overcoming death, love overcoming law.
This greater, original theme suggests that Valentine’s Day is all-inclusive. Whether you’re maintaining high school friendships despite thousands of miles of separation or pursuing classical flute training while balancing a heavy ChemE load, ultimately your passion has overcome your challenges. Perhaps the best examples of this inextinguishable love are the hundreds and thousands of Stanford students who hurdled socioeconomic barriers to attend our University and pursue their love of learning.
Only one day to celebrate love? (more…)