Let's celebrate singles on Feb. 14

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Feb. 14 is the most dreaded day by singles nationwide. Red, pink and flowerly it decends upon us. Valentine's Day. A day for holding hands, exchanging gifts, and giving out overpriced cards to all your friends.

It wasn't always like this. Originally Valentine's Day was a day set aside to honor the death of Saint Valentine, a priest who performed marriages against the order of Roman Emperor Claudius II.

This day was celebrated by having a Valentine's Feast, not feasting on candy. So how did this transition occur? It's mainly thanks to the American Greetings© Card Company.

Based in Ohio and employing 9,400 people, this company produces greeting cards, gift wraps, party goods, candles, balloons, stationery and gift wares and sells them all over the world. Their biggest buyer is America, and America's favorite day for buying sentimental knick-knacks isValentine's Day. This day seems to be more about merchandising and commercialism than love.

Valentine's Day has also become a day with high suicide rates. People feel inadequate and unworthy if they are not dating someone, and they are reminded of this every time they walk into the grocery store and are bombarded by images of cupids and balloon hearts and boxes of candy. Of course, single people get depressed on Valentine's Day.

What single person wouldn't feel somewhat sad on Valentine's Day? The media reinforces the idea that you can only be happy if you are involved with someone.

Why can't the media show that healthy, attractive, normal people can be single, without making it seem like being uncoupled is the end of the world? Being single is a choice: It doesn't mean you're ugly and no one will date you. Valentine's Day happens to be one of the most depressing days for singles, and seeing everyone exchanging gifts doesn't help.

But why do we exchange gifts? To prove we love each other, of course. But aren't there other, less expensive ways to do it? If you really want to prove that you love someone, don't become the prey and profit of some card company. Do something out-of-the-ordinary, even if it's something simple like calling when you actually said you'd call or going to that really cheesy kung-fu movie your boyfriend has been wanting to see.

And, hey, if you're single, you don't have to celebrate Valentine's Day, or celebrate it in your own, non-Hallmark-influenced way. You could celebrate Single's Appreciation Day (which happens to be on Feb. 14 as well), and go somewhere with a group of your friends.

It's OK to be single, and entering a relationship too soon can mean more pressure on you and your partner. You may enter a relationship with the wrong person just because you want to be with someone, and you may not really know the person you date. So take it slow and find your own, unique way to celebrate Feb. 14, and remember that there is nothing wrong with you if you are single.

• Dani Correa is an eighth-grader in Ali McKenna's Juneau-Douglas High School "Writing for Publication" class. From the Hallways is a column showcasing the thoughts and opinions of students in McKenna's high school journalism class and Sarah Brooks' Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School writing workshop.



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