Modern Takes On Valentine’s Day: What Teenagers of 2021 Think of This Heart-Shaped Holiday <3


The Essence Of Valentine’s Day! Collage by: Lilli Dunn.

Valentine’s Day Love (Photography by: Lilli Dunn) Models: Katie Gray and Ryan Thom.
Valentine’s Day Love (Photography by: Lilli Dunn) Models: Katie Gray and Ryan Thom.
Valentine’s Day Love (Photography by: Lilli Dunn) Models: Katie Gray and Ryan Thom
Valentine’s Day Love (Photography by: Lilli Dunn) Models: Katie Gray and Ryan Thom.

Happy February, and Welcome to my Valentine’s Recap! 

As you are all most definitely aware, Valentine’s day has just passed. As it is one of my most favorite holidays of the year and the month of romance, I wanted to talk a little bit about its origins and a lot about its significance in our culture for young people today. This day of pink and red seems nearly controversial because today’s teenagers almost always take a definite stance: pro or anti-valentine’s day. 

This holiday has drastically evolved from past generations and even more drastically evolved from its roots. The tradition of Valentine’s Day stems from the story of Saint Valentine, who is considered a martyr, but the official legend is widely debated. It is generally agreed upon, however, that the 14th of February is the date of Saint Valentine’s death. Some believe that Saint Valentine performed illegal marriages for couples after marriage was outlawed on the belief that single men made better soldiers; for this, he was put to death. There are also legends of Saint Valentine being killed for trying to help the Christian people escape from brutal Roman prisons. It is rumored that he fell in love with a young girl who visited him in jail, and he wrote her a love letter signed, “From Your Valentine,” an experience comically different from the Valentine’s Day traditions we are so familiar with today. 

The first Valentine’s Day was celebrated in the year 496 AD, and it is completely unrecognizable from the now highly commercialized and sometimes superficial day of “roses ‘n teddy bears.” In a sweet little blog post entitled, “Valentine’s Day of the 1950’s,” it is made evident that even 60 to 70 years ago, Valentine’s didn’t look like it does now, but there are some distinctly recognizable, nostalgic moments highlighted. The writer of the post states, “every student [being] required to give everyone in the classroom a Valentine” and “students [bringing] in decorated boxes they had made at home … [which] were often shoe boxes that were decorated with colored hearts, construction paper, lace paper doilies, etc. … [for their] classmates to drop Valentine’s into the box.” This almost annoyingly adorable tradition has withstood the test of time as it is still being practiced in elementary school classrooms in America today. 

I would like to justify my attachment to Valentine’s Day now, despite it admittedly being a bit of a capitalistic black hole for cheap gifts, heart-shaped chocolate boxes, and cheesy greeting cards. I am also fully aware of the belief that we should love people everyday, so there shouldn’t be a holiday dedicated to it. In my opinion, however, there are holidays dedicated to less important aspects of life. What’s the harm in some conversation hearts and stupid, little cards that are going to be thrown out anyway? (confession: I don’t throw them away.) Valentine’s Day can make people sad, reminding them of their lack of significant other, but this day does not have to be about romantic love! Valentine’s Day is as important as you make it, and it can easily be a platonic holiday spent with a group of friends. I am a firm believer in romanticizing life to make the most of it. My friends and I had a cute little picnic this past weekend for Valentine’s Day; we all wore pink and red and purple, eating fruit and drinking coffee (evidence in video above). One of them even made a cake with “bae” written on it in pink frosting, and we served the cake by scooping it up in plastic glasses, like everyone has been doing lately (again, see video above). I even went to work at a pizza place later that night in a pastel pink dress, risking being covered in marinara for the spirit of Valentine’s Day. The less pressure we put on things to be perfect and special beyond words, the easier it is to be happy and enjoy yourself in each passing moment. 

Well, you know what they say about curiosity; I couldn’t help myself, and I asked our very own HBHS students their thoughts on this “Hallmark Holiday” via Instagram polls. Of the 73 people that voted, 85% (62 people) voted that they like Valentine’s Day, and the other 15% (11 people) voted that they did not. 

 I asked these voters to leave me with their thoughts and traditions, receiving a multitude of answers ranging all over the spectrum. 

Santana Vespe, a senior at Huntington Beach High School says, “I love love and sweet things and hearts and showing people that [I] care about them a little more because of the holiday! It doesn’t have to be romantic; for example, I just love giving my friends and family little gifts and cards on the 14th!” She went on to say, “I understand why people would dislike it! However, I do feel that it is more than a corporate scam or made up holiday! There are Pagan roots, and anyway, the world is always in need of more love and sweetness!” 

Contrary to Vespe, Michaela Capulong, a junior at HBHS, simply states, “I don’t really like conventionally fun and cute things.”

Those that expressed sentiments similar to Michaela’s generally revolve around a lack of significant other and the feeling that V-Day is full of pressure and gross, capitalist ideals. An HBHS senior, Julia Chie, says, “[Valentine’s Day] is lame if you want a significant other and you’re single, but it’s cool to have a day dedicated to love.” 

Some people saw both sides, like Huntington Beach senior, Aidan Atkinson, saying, “on one hand, it’s just a day that corporations made to sell cards and candy, but also, it’s always nice to set aside a day to celebrate your friends and loved ones.” 

Brenna Hiett admitted she enjoys Valentine’s day “mostly for the cute, little lollipops you get your friends and the colors and letters and such,” proving that while Valentine’s Day might just be slightly driven by capitalism, it is not an inherently evil holiday. What’s not to love about some Tootsie Pops and Hershey’s Kisses?

Although this holiday sparks some controversy and mixed feelings for many, I have to say that I agree with and will leave you with this final opinion from Juliette Walsh, another HBHS senior: “V-Day is so hot; I don’t care if it’s a corporate scheme, I just wanna dress up and be cute with friends.”