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Love, Life, and Materialism

By Jake Logan | Editor-in-Chief
On February 15, 2012

Love is patient. Love is Kind. Love is slowly losing your mind. Love, love, love, we are surrounded by love and thankfully we have survived another St. Valentine's Day (V-Day). For those who have a special someone you probably got some cards, flowers, went to "The Vow" aka "The Notebook 2" and, if you have a smart special someone, you may have gotten something sparkly and shiny. V-Day is suppose to be the day you show your loved one, how much you love them, but does anyone know the real story behind St. Valentine and how he became the patron saint of sappy romance?

Well, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there are actually three St. Valentines; all three were martyrs and all three live in Ancient Rome. One was a priest in Rome, another a Bishop near modern Terni, with no mention of the third Valentine's occupation or status. However we do know that all three were tortured and died a martyr's death.

So what I can gather there is no one St. Valentine, since there is no St. Valentine's Day on the Catholic calendar of saints. But how did the custom of exchanging of love letters/notes and love trinkets begin? Good question. If you go back to the 14-century, the writer Chaucer's Parliament of Foules shows one of the first references to "Valentine's Day." And I quote, "for this was sent on Seynt Valentyne's day.  Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate." So the notion of giving material things to your loved one goes back centuries.

So when someone like me says V-Day is purely a commercial holiday, we are not completely wrong. There is no one St. Valentine, patron saint of lovers, but rather Hallmark, florists, candy companies, and jewelers trying to make an extra buck.  While I am sure all three Saint Valentines died horrid and painful deaths, however I am failing to see the spark of love's eternal flame, but rather the spark of burning at the stake.

As a society we are constantly told our happiness lies in the hands of another. We are supposed to need a Jerry McGuire figure to "complete" us.  Honestly past your graduation or your 21st birthday, when are you ever celebrated for just you? You get to a certain age and you start buying engagement gifts, wedding gifts, then house warming gifts and eventually baby shower gifts.

I hope I am not coming off as selfish or in need of gifts, but more flustered with society that I need a relationship, and then suppose to give and receive gifts because of it. What tax breaks for being married and having children is not enough? Do I really need a bagel toaster or a diaper genie to be happy?

Why do we associate love with materials? Now do not get me wrong; I have had my share of materialism, and whoever said money cannot buy happiness has obviously never shopped at Tiffany & Co., but why do we need materialism in our relationships? If your boyfriend forgets to buy a card and flowers on V-Day does it really mean he does not love you or somehow loves you less than your friend's boyfriend who got them a dozen roses?

Honestly, if you need flowers or even diamonds to feel secure in your relationship, it is probably not going to last anyway.  Why do we limit the giving of love to one day out of the year anyway? Would you not feel just or even more loved or special if you got flowers out of blue, say in October?

To those who are not in a relationship, please do not feel sadden or depressed by your single status. As a college student, I do not know where people find the time for relationships. I know personally I would rather pass all my midterms than go on some silly date. Plus, Monmouth is not exactly a lover's paradise. Do not get me wrong; I like KFC, but I am not sure how romantic a bucket of chicken can be. If you are an intelligent person, you are at Western to get a degree, not a husband.

However, I do believe in that special someone, a soul mate if you will, but I do not need one to feel complete; I complete myself. I have more goals in life than walking down the isle, or giving chocolates and roses. When I am in a relationship, I want it to be because I love the person, not that they complete me or give me gifts on February 14.

So, to those who say "Happy Valentine's Day!" I say "Happy Birthday ,Oregon!"  Remember, Feb. 14 was the day Oregon joined the union, not just the day to give things to your loved one.

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