Feb 102008
Authors: Sean Reed

A good friend once said to me, “there comes a time in every man’s life when he must empty his pockets and sell his soul.”

That time, of course, is Valentine’s Day, and it is right around the corner.

Now, men and women everywhere (I disagree with my friend in that I think this fateful day makes members of both sexes equally miserable) are scrambling like ants to impress their significant others and prospects by being spontaneous and romantic.

Well, I have sour news for all you lads and ladies out there – there is nothing romantic about Feb. 14.

Valentine’s Day started originally as a feast for St. Valentine, an early Christian martyr who was beaten and beheaded for allegedly aiding prison escapes for Christians in Rome and for converting one jailor, according to the History Channel.

Another story contends that Valentine was put to death for violating an order by Roman emperor Claudius II banning marriage for young men because he though unmarried men made better soldiers.

In celebration of his sacrifice and, some say, as a means to “baptize” a Roman fertility festival, the Catholic Church established St. Valentine’s Day.

In the 14th century, the meaning of the holiday took a dramatic shift when poet Geoffrey Chaucer linked the St. Valentine’s Day celebration with romantic love in his poem “Parlement of Foules,” written in 1382. In the poem, he describes the holiday as a day when birds in Britain find their mates.

This idea of Feb. 14 as a romantic occasion of the serendipitous meeting of couples, then, became widely popular, and spiraled into the sappy, greeting card-infested love-fest that it has become today.

Personally, I don’t get it.

Martyrdom, bad poetry and bird sex, at least for me, are not turn-ons. Even less so is the idea of prescribing one day out of the year to be “the day” to be romantic.

Now, Valentine’s Day is a multimillion dollar occasion for the greeting card industry and a source of misery for many — whether single or in an involved relationship.

Men, who know they are expected to present a dazzling evening of chocolate, flowers and romance, skip out on rent, food and utilities to provide.

Many women, especially if just getting into a relationship, have to wonder if all the attention they receive that night is genuine or if it is all just an elaborate ploy to get them into bed, which, ladies, I’m sad to say, is the case far more often than it should be.

Single folks have it the worst. Half feel miserable because they have no one to share the day with, the rest are just annoyed because they have to take extra hours at work to accommodate other’s participating in the unromantic occasion.

Really, the only winners on Valentine’s Day are the restaurants and movie theaters that see their business increase astronomically, if only for one night.

So, this Valentine’s Day, don’t get taken by all the sappy commercials and pink, flowery grocery store displays, or lame TV specials. Acknowledge the holiday for what it is — an excuse to irresponsibly spend money you don’t have on good food, bad movies and cards that will be in the trash by the end of the week.

Happy Valentine’s Day, CSU.

Editorials Editor Sean Reed is a senior political science major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters, feedback and requests for Valentine’s Day dates can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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