February 14th was declared Valentine’s Day at the end of the fifth century to honor a martyred priest, but what’s the connection between a celibate clergyman and romance? Some say it’s because the priest, Valentine, defended the cause of love by performing marriage rites for young soldiers who were forbidden to marry by Roman law. Some say the date for celebrating St. Valentine was chosen in order to “Christianize” a pagan fertility holiday.
Since the middles ages, however, Valentine’s Day has been unequivocally connected to the idea of romantic love. After taking hold in Europe, the holiday as we know it expanded to the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Australia. Now, one billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, which makes it the second-most card-sendingest holiday on the calendar!
The idea of romantic or courtly love has dominated our concept of what a valentine is about. The iconic question “Will you be my valentine?” is a message of romantic courtship, classically defined as a young male courting a young female.
Well, enough with the limitations: the Monkey is taking back Valentine’s Day!! Valentine’s Day is for all of us. You don’t have to be young; you don’t have to be dating someone; you don’t have to be a male chasing a female; and you don’t even have to be a human being to claim Valentine’s Day as your own. Let’s celebrate the love fest that is emotional connection, in all its many splendours.
Let’s celebrate love that’s very much requited.
Let’s celebrate love that knows no gender.
Let’s celebrate love that crosses species.
Let’s celebrate YOU and all the people and beasts you love, as you walk this earth.
And that is why we have so many different hearts in PicMonkey: because love comes in all shapes and sizes. Happy Valentine’s Day to us all!
* Photo of St. Valentine sculpture by Flickr user Christian Pichler