Valentine's: The Anti-Holiday?

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By Sarah Rae for

It's that time of year again. Storefronts decorated with red and pink hearts, every color roses, obnoxious mylar balloons, and half-ransacked greeting card aisles. Like New Year's Eve, we feel like we can't be alone on February 14th and yet all our non-single friends will be unavailable.

Valentine's Day may not have been invented by Hallmark, but the trumping up of this holiday's importance is definitely the result of clever advertising. In the U.S. we send about 1 billion valentine cards and eat over 1 billion pounds of chocolate. Doesn't sound all that sexy. In fact, the roots of the holiday itself will make you wonder what love has to do with it at all.

Originally in ancient Rome February 14th was the day young couples would be paired up by lottery for the duration of the Pagan pastoral festival Lupercalia, which began on the 15th. The festival celebrated the she-wolf Lupa responsible for suckling the infant babes Romulus and Remus, who would later be the founding fathers of Rome. Lupercalia was a purification and fertility rite to bring a plentiful harvest in the spring. It included the sacrifice of animals, blood rituals, flagellation of festival-goers, drinking, and widespread revelry. At the end of the 5th Century the Pope Galesius designated the Eve of Lupercalia as the feast of Saint Valentine and banned the pairing of young couples for being unchristian. Virtually nothing is known about the saint, so we're left to speculate. Why is that day such a big deal? Why do we rearrange our schedule around it, spend lots of money, or insist we have a date? It's definitely not for worry of a skimpy harvest.

Maybe you're spending the 14th single this year, and no history lesson is going to make you feel less lonely. Maybe you don't even care about cards, candy, a fancy dinner, or gifts. You just don't want to be on your own. Try to spend it with friends or family. Not only do you already have healthy relationships with them, they will definitely appreciate the company. You could also use the 14th to do something you always wanted to do. If skydiving seems like a bit much, take yourself out to see that movie nobody else wanted to see.

When you feel yourself getting bummed out that you're single, remember you're not in violation of some romantic statute. And get real if you think having a partner would make the holiday perfect. How many Valentine's dates crash and burn? How many people can't even be with their partner on the 14th?

Treat yourself well. Make Valentine's about pampering yourself. Buy some new lavender bath salts and take a warm dip in candlelight. Sure, you wish your partner had drawn that bath and was rubbing your feet at the other end of the tub, but you're on your own for a reason. Were your exes really that good to you anyway? Who could treat you better than yourself? Being single could potentially be the best Valentine's Day you ever had.

Sarah Rae is a writer and editor from New Orleans. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. More information can be found at helps people find happiness in the right relationship. If you've been through a breakup, divorce, or just haven't been able to find happiness in your love life, BounceBack is a place to tell your story, get community support and advice from experts, and find the confidence and strength you need to move forward. Check out our Facebook page.

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