OPINION: Valentine’s Day celebrates more than just romance

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Many Latin American countries know the holiday as el día de los enamorados (day of lovers) or día del amor y la amistad (day of love and friendship). Though couples exchange flowers and chocolate on this day, the holiday’s focus is also directed at showing gratitude to friends.

Valentine’s Day is largely known as a holiday centered around romantic relationships. This has caused many mixed emotions regarding the holiday, both for those who aren’t in romantic relationships and those who feel the holiday is unnecessary. However, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to just be about romance. 

I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day because I’ve always seen it as a holiday centered around love as a whole. Remember when you were a kid and you gave everyone a card for Valentine’s Day? It was a day of eating sweets and having fun with your friends. This is a practice we can and should still follow. We can bring candy to our coworkers and classmates, or even send presents such as gift cards. 

While it can feel disheartening to be single on Valentine’s Day, there are ways we can celebrate and take our minds off of that. For example, there’s always Galentine’s Day, which is celebrated on Feb. 13 and is dedicated to spending time with friends. There are several activities that can be enjoyed with a partner or with friends or family. One thing that’s always fun is baking and decorating. This can be done in quarantine and is an inexpensive way to be creative while also enjoying delicious treats. Making cards to send to loved ones can also be a fun and creative Valentine’s Day activity. 

If the weather is nice, going for a walk or having a picnic with friends or family can be a great way to spend time with loved ones while safely socially distancing. You can prepare for this by making an aesthetically pleasing charcuterie board or learning to make a new recipe. If you want to do something to distract yourself, helping out in the community can be a good way to do something good while not focusing on negative emotions. These are ways to enjoy nature and think of other people, making the day about love as a whole. 

If you live with family or roommates, having a game night with them or binge watching movies can be a fun way to do something at home, especially with the pandemic and the bad weather that has been happening lately. 

If you can’t do something with other people on Valentine’s Day, there are plenty of ways to spend the day alone. Trying a new workout, taking a nice bath with your favorite scents, eating your favorite foods or writing a list of goals for the future can be great ways to care for yourself and encourage a positive attitude. Making the day about self-love can also be part of what Valentine’s Day is about, not just romantic love with a significant other. 

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a negative experience if you’re not in a relationship. It can be a day with friends or family, or a day of self-care and self-reflection. Valentine’s Day can be whatever you want it to be, and it’s up to you to decide how to spend it.