Photo illustration by Ian Keel/Photo EditorPhoto illustration by Ian Keel/Photo EditorZach Aplin
Contributing Writer

Valentine’s Day has been rumored to have started as early as 470 A.D., according to History.com. The pagan holiday was eventually rechristened as a Saint-Day and then commercialized as one of the most celebrated days out of the year.

People love celebrating love and friendship on Valentine’s Day. However, Feb. 14 isn't just for people in relationships, but a day for everyone.

For someone following the traditional route of Valentine’s Day, going out to any fancy restaurant can remind their significant other that they are important and doteable. Great restaurants in the Birmingham area offer Valentine’s Day deals such as affordable dinners for two, special desserts for a special someone and live music.

The element of surprise is important in gift giving. Rebecca Ray, a freshman in psychology, prepared a special surprise for her boyfriend of one year.

“I needed something that would really surprise him, so I ordered an Airbnb in Chattanooga, Tenn. for two nights,” Ray said. “We are going to go hiking, shopping and treat ourselves to a nice dinner.”

Ray had the advantage of planning ahead, but her advice to those planning last minute is to do something that both partners enjoy.

Valentine’s isn’t all roses and chocolates. Some dissenters feel the holiday is overdramatized.

“It’s excessive,” said Saad Khan, a junior in finance. “I feel like you could just go on a date any night, and it would be equally important. I feel like putting all your emphasis on one day kind of deteriorates the rest of the action that you are going with, you know?”

An opposition to the established custom of Valentine’s Day is to go out with single gal-pals and make the celebration into Galentine’s Day. The idea of “Gal-entine’s” Day is being widely used this year, especially by Zoe Gage, a freshman in marketing.  She encourages those who do not have any plans with significant other’s to celebrate their friends instead.

“I think Valentine’s Day is a cheesy holiday, but I don’t dislike it,” Gage said. “The best part though is going out to dinner with my friends. Who says your Valentine’s can’t be your best friends?”

Gage likes the idea that Valentine’s Day as a way to celebrate love, romantic and platonic.

Martha Pudner, a sophomore in international studies, said that there is nothing wrong with people who like to be by themselves this Valentine’s Day. Being alone is not something to be ashamed of, but a time to reflect on self-love she said.

“I think as college students, we are much more fluid and less constrained by labels,” Pudner said. “And, I just think it puts unnecessary pressure on relationships. I think the most rewarding thing you can do this Valentine’s Day is be by yourself.”

Pudner feels that the most important freedom single people have comes on Valentine’s Day. She said that [single people] can do whatever they want without worrying about or pleasing somebody else.

The great thing about Valentine’s Day is that it is no longer just for couples. The holiday is flexible and can fit to any person’s liking. The holiday has become a day to look at all different types of relationships involving love, and that is the true meaning for the saint-named day.

“I mean it definitely is a consumer holiday, but you don’t have to tap into that,” said Taylor Dole, a senior in theater performance. “I think it is a day to think about if you are with someone, if you love someone, think about them, focus on them completely... You don’t have to tap into the commercial part of it and it doesn’t have to be on Feb. 14.”

Zach Aplin can be reached at zachapli@uab.edu.

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