I’m taking a class called “Late Romanticism,” and one of the biggest things I’m learning from it is how important human love is. “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.” That’s a line from Endymion, by John Keats. Keats was a late romantic poet, and he was big on love, too. Like, really big. Luckily for Keats, myself, and pretty much everybody else, there is a holiday that is solely devoted to the celebration and expression of love between people; I am referring, of course, to Valentine’s Day.
The haters might say something like, “Valentine’s Day is the absolute [expletive] worst” because “single people will feel kind of down all day and either stay at home and get drunk by themselves or get together with their other single friends while everyone assumes a false mien of cheerfulness about being single.” Rosie Gray of The Village Voice actually said exactly that. But here’s the thing – nobody is making anybody feel bad about anything on this fine holiday. Valentine’s Day is not the “absolute worst” just because you’re single. That’s like saying that St. Patrick’s Day is the “absolute worst” if you’re not Irish. Except nobody says that… because that’s absolutely ridiculous! There is not one holiday in the history of all holidays that has ever been universally celebrated, and it’s absolutely ludicrous to hold them to a universal standard.
But honestly, the thing that bugs me most is the fact that Valentine’s Day is singled out as being exclusive, when it’s actually the most widely applicable holiday of all. There is no rule, decree, or guideline that says that Valentine’s Day has to be only about romantic love. Yes, romantic love is a big focus of Valentine’s, but it’s really a celebration of the bonds of love that form between people – romantic or not.
Let me elaborate on my own early experiences with Valentine’s Day, before romantic relationships were even close to being a priority in my life. Every year, my family would celebrate Valentine’s Day in exactly the same way – my mom, my dad, my brother, and me, enjoying a special dinner together. New York steak, lobster, salad, and soup. And non-alcoholic wine was a staple as well. We’d dust off the nice mahogany dinner table in the dining room and eat there, not at the old stump in the kitchen. It was always a dearly special day to celebrate the love we shared as a family.
Personal tangents aside, my point is this: above all else, Valentine’s Day is a sacred occasion to celebrate the love between people. And that means all kinds of love, even if romantic love is the kind that gets the most attention. Everyone can celebrate Valentine’s Day, because I truly believe that everyone has a bond of love in their lives. But even so, there’s no sense in condemning a holiday just because it doesn’t specifically apply to you at the moment. I would sure hope that you’re not glaring at every parent on either Mother’s or Father’s Day just because you haven’t had a kid yet. Sheesh.
Featured Photo: Valentine’s Day is not just about romantic love – it can be about the love shared between friends and family. HURSH KARKHANIS / SF FOGHORN