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February 14th 2020

Head Girl Team Blog: Valentines Day

Ingrid from our Sixth Form and head girl team shared some thoughts on Valentines Day.

For centuries, the name of Valentine has been associated with love. In the fourteenth century, Chaucer referred to “seynt Volantynys day”, William Shakespeare and John Donne wrote in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century about Valentine as a symbol of love, and the practice of sending Valentine’s cards to a loved one was already widespread in early Victorian England.

The actual origins of the festival are uncertain. The 14 February was already being celebrated as a festival of love in fifteenth century France, but the name “Valentine” could be referring to any of three third-century Christian martyrs living in the Roman Empire, who died on the 14 February. Curiously, all three were originally associated with a miraculous ability to cure epilepsy, not with the performance of marriage ceremonies for Christian couples, although this is what Catholics eventually attached to the name of the martyr Valentine.

I feel that, today, Valentine’s Day can be seen as merely an opportunity for shops to market cheap cards, chocolate hearts and kitschy teddy bears. Many of us roll our eyes as a matter of course at “ugh capitalism”, but don’t seem to acknowledge that those of us dismissing Valentine’s Day for this reason are profiting, throughout the year, from living in a capitalist society; the world has evolved since the third century AD and, with it, traditions such as Valentine’s Day.

It is a confluence of religious, cultural and literary traditions, which has spread and adapted to include many non-Christian countries around the world. The values of the people celebrating it have changed too: women are not forced into marriage in France as they would have been at the time that they celebrated Valentine in the fifteenth century, and it has become acceptable in many more countries for same-sex couple to celebrate their love for each other on Valentine’s Day.

So what has stayed the same? To return to my very first sentence, it’s quite simply the idea of celebrating love. And (without needing to buy flowers or excessively expensive jewellery) this is something that we can and should celebrate in its many forms: love within romantic relationships, love between friends, love amongst family members.

To quote Jane Austen: “There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time.”

And she was right. Here are the different ways, for example, that each of us on the Head Girl Team are celebrating love on Valentine’s Day:

Apple: For Valentine’s Day, I tend to spend time with my family, and most importantly spend time doing things I love. This year, I’m planning on baking, as this is something I enjoy in my free time and sharing my desserts with my loved ones.

Ingrid: I’m looking forward to going to a new restaurant with my girlfriend for Valentine’s this year.

Olivia: I am away for Valentine’s this year so won’t be able to spend it with my family. However, I will hopefully have a lovely dinner with my mum and sister in the evening celebrating together.

Natasha: I’ll be staying in and having dinner with my boyfriend.

Subee: For Valentine’s day, I won’t really be celebrating it as much as other people might. I will probably watch a movie with my family and chill out for the day.

Whatever you do this Valentine’s Day, even if it is taking some time alone to look after yourself, I hope that it brings you joy and gives you space for what is important to you.

Written by Ingrid, Year 13


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