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The Bitter Lemon: How history screwed singletons

You probably already know that Valentine’s Day comes from Saint Valentine. But, I needed to know how a Saint caused such a giant mess for singletons each year.

I took it to Google.

An article I found on History.com says the Catholic Church recognizes three saints named Valentine or Valentinus. There is a legend that one of the Valentines was in prison, and he sent the first “valentine” to his jailor’s daughter. He signed it, “From your Valentine,” and the phrase has stuck around ever since.

According to some, the celebratory day of Valentine corresponds with his date of death, but some say the timing has more to do with the start of birds’ mating season. Put that in your champagne and drink it.

Today, 1 billion valentines are exchanged each year, making it the second-best day for the greeting card companies.

The history is interesting, but it doesn’t explain why singletons are left in the dark on this day of love. I’ll say this: when February rolls around, I never know how I should take it.

Some people, coupled or single, hate Valentine’s Day, and some people love it. And there are some people who don’t care about it at all.

I’ve noticed though, that there’s no right way for a singleton to acknowledge Valentine’s Day. If we hate it, then we’re seen as bitter; if we love it, then we’re stupid for celebrating a “fake” holiday. What gives?

I just started watching the HBO series The Newsroom a few weeks ago (I know, I’m late to the game), and in the first season, Maggie instructs Jim to treat her roommate to a fantastic Valentine’s Day because every Feb. 14 has been terrible for her.

Naturally, Jim gets caught up at work on the big day, and the roommate comes storming into the office, screaming about how another Valentine’s Day has ruined her life. I don’t think that’s how most single people act on Valentine’s Day, but I can’t speak for all of us.

However, I’d venture to say that actual Valentine’s Day isn’t just about the day. Most singletons don’t care about an over-priced bouquet of roses, a mushy card or a themed dinner. I left out chocolate, because I do care, greatly, about chocolate.

It’s about not having a partner. Sure, we’ve got friends, family, coworkers and colleagues, but we’re tackling the struggle on our own.

Some of the most joy I’ve gotten from a man came from simply having someone to talk to at the end of the day. Whether it’s sorting out the challenges, or laughing about the happy times, going it alone is a battle in itself.

And while every holiday has its “couple-y” aspect, a holiday such as Valentine’s Day just drives it right on home – that flashing billboard that says, “YOU’RE SINGLE.” Trust us, universe, we already know.

Don’t think we aren’t aware of the idyllic jewelry commercials, and the date nights just for couples. We see it.

It’s not like I just forget that I’m single. It’s pretty easy to remember when I go to bed alone, when I’ve got no special guy to call for great news or a bad day, no kissy-face emojis to start my morning, and worst of all, no one to snuggle with when I’m on the couch watching bad TV.

No, I’m not moping around all day, every day, I’m just saying that single people don’t need a big red and pink hoopla of a holiday to make us feel better or worse.

To my fellow singletons, at the very least, Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, so no gawking over giant flower displays at work. However, beware of every half-decent restaurant on Saturday night. If you need me, I’ll be on my couch with champagne. The upside? I don’t have to share.

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