Valentines: A Tragic History

Photo credit: tutincommon via Flickr

by Charlotte Gehrke

Everyone knows about the origin story of Valentine’s day; be it Saint Valentine or the flower industry. Most people, however, associate this Tuesday less with romance and pralines but rather with pressure to find a great gift for one’s significant other and stress to have a good time – by this definition, Valentine’s day has assumed the status of the couple’s version of Christmas and New Year’s combined.

Therefore, one cannot help but wonder why our society is making such a big deal out of a day dominated by an armed, obese infant with wings accompanied by a lot of drama?

The answer to this question is as obvious as it is frustrating: love is a messy and tragic affair. And, as some would argue, it is exactly this excitement inflicting drama that most people love about love. After all, we are obsessed with love stories, such as Casablanca, Romeo and Juliet, Cleopatra and Mark Anthony, The Great Gatsby, Titanic, Bonny and Clyde, Brokeback Mountain, and the list goes on. And while some of these share the honor of featuring Leonardo DiCaprio in their screen adaptions, all of them end tragically and in most cases with more than one person dead.

So, perhaps instead of asking ourselves about the reasons of this masochistic obsession of consuming stories to which we already know the heartbreaking ending, we should simply face the ‘facts’, a world without much meaning these days.

This might sound pessimistic or cynical but as history, literature and film has shown us, love is tragic (especially since James Cameron stated in a recent interview with The Daily Beast that it would have been impossible for both Rose and Jack to survive on that door) – so it’s time to face the music, bite the bullet and swallow the pill (or a bucket of Ben & Jerry’s).

Indeed, love often ends tragically and Valentine’s day is simply a reminder of this omnipotent condition. Therefore, we owe it to ourselves to make the best of it: So, whether you’re single, with someone or too cool to put a label on anything – St. Valentine and the flower and chocolate industry gave all of you the gift of a dedicated day for couples to publicly display their (tragic) affection for one another and for singles to mercilessly mock, ridicule, despite and condemn them in healthy distance of cupid’s games of tragedy and drama. Enjoy!

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