Reclaiming Valentine’s day isn’t as cheesy as it sounds
Emma Mendez (she/her/they/them) // Culture Editor
Sharleen Ramos // Illustrator
Capitalism, the patriarchy, & hetero-cisnormativity have defined love for us as only being or looking a certain way for a long time. Valentine’s Day, for many, is a day that enforces those expectations, and a time of year that many dread. Single or not, it can bring up a lot of wounds around love, self-esteem, and for some even pressure. But although Valentine’s Day is heavily emphasized as being THE day of romance, that doesn’t have to be all bad.
So many forget that love exists as more than romance or sex- it’s the willingness to share and be in each other’s lives. If one embraces love from that perspective, shouldn’t loving relationships be all around us? In our friendships? In our connection to our passions, to our dreams?
You may be rolling your eyes and saying that this is a cliché one tells themselves to ease the Valentine’s Day loneliness or stress. However, it’s time we reclaim this day, and that we reclaim love as a celebration of connection and desire. What do you genuinely enjoy doing? Who makes you feel excited about life? How do you experience love in your day to day? This day can serve as a reminder to what it’s like to reconnect with yourself and light the candles on your own self-love altar.
Of course, you don’t even have to celebrate on that day at all. Whenever you choose to celebrate, and with whoever, take this opportunity to get out of your comfort of your routine. Maybe you and your partner(s) always go to the same restaurant, or you generally prefer to go write by yourself at your favourite beach. There’s nothing wrong with creature comforts, but everyone needs some excitement. It doesn’t have to be wildly expensive either, or cost anything at all. Celebrating love is simply about holding space for your desire and or each others, expressing it, and growth.
Maybe it’s my hopeless romantic nature, but when I started to explore this perspective on love, I began to be able to let go of the shame this day brought out in me. Everything truly shifted in my life when I began to redirect my energy to being connected to my desires, passions, friendships, and myself the same way I focused on whether I was dating someone or not, or if my romantic relationship was “the way it was supposed to be.”
With the ongoing pandemic and the already narrow perspective on love this day brings, all of this, especially taking the leap and getting outside your comfortable routine, seems easier said than done. But I want to remind you again, celebrating doesn’t have to look like everyone else thinks it should look, buying a teddy and roses may be cute, but does it really fulfill your desires? Does it spark passion? Probably not. Instead, think about taking a love languages quiz, and plan your day out around that. You can go out and do something fun and exciting to you in a way that feels good to you, passion wise and COVID wise. For some live shows or exhibits may be what feels good and COVID safe, for others it’s browsing a used bookstore finding the strangest books for each other, for others it may simply be going to the different gardens they can find around the city.
Whether you’re in a relationship or single, spend the day with your closest friends, your partner(s), or alone! Do a movie night in and relive your childhood nostalgia, or go on an adventure in your area and see where it leads you! Show each other your favourite places and hobbies or summon some ghosts! However you decide to spend the day, spend it basking in joy. Embrace this day and time of year, as a reminder to live and love passionately no matter what. No one gets to define what love is, how it looks like, who you share it with or don’t, or how you express it. Valentine’s day needs to be reclaimed and made our own, because our love for ourselves and each other is worth celebrating authentically.