Valentine’s day has become a day of diamonds, roses, and chocolates. The history of Valentine’s day has become lost in the rubble of modern commercialization. So, where did these traditions start? Are they all purely a modern concept? Or, did they, at one-point, stem from tradition and have simply become overblown? Researching the history of Valentine’s day brings up many (many) links. Some sound plausible, and some farfetched. Love through the ages has had opposition on many fronts. Historically love between classes was frowned upon, love between races, sexes, ages.
One thing I have learned through my degree is that the concept of forbidden love is more of a modern concept. Through nineteenth century literature to novels about various tribes, it seems that the idea that heterosexuality is “natural” is a modern belief. Sexuality, and love, were at one time more free than they are today. I find it shocking that we, as a society, feel that we have a right to dictate who can love whom. While there should be protection for innocence, there should be no other hold on marriage or love.
I have learned that other sexualities have been seen, celebrated, and accepted through the ages. At some point society decided to frown on it and made it illegal; it is shocking that only recently it has been legal to marry someone of one’s own sex. At least, I suppose, the error in dictating love has, in some countries, been seen and rectified. There are still many who forbid it, though for what reasons I cannot begin to understand.
I am unsure what it matters who we love? Why other’s feel the need to have a say in someone else’s life, does it really make a difference to you, personally? This Valentine’s day, I would like to challenge everyone to take a few moments to appreciate the love they have in their life. To consider what it would be like to be told that they cannot have that love, simply because it goes against someone’s beliefs. Whether you are in a relationship or not, this is something that can be done. I want everyone to consider what their life would be like if they faced the same discrimination day after day. How it would feel to be told you cannot be with the person you love, for no reason except it might offend someone who you do not know.
Instead of being sucked into the commercialization of Valentine’s day, celebrate the love you have in your life, have had, or have the privilege of being able to have. Take a moment and celebrate love for what it is, regardless of who loves whom. I challenge everyone to take a moment and really consider what it would be like to face such discrimination. This is not something everyone will be able to truly understand, but maybe it will help to make it easier for those understand it all too well. This Valentine’s day let’s spread the love. Let’s challenge those who say discriminatory things and be open to love.
Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature