The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
TW: descriptions of graphic violence, mentions of STDs
I like Valentine’s Day as much as I like love; which is to say the idea of it is beautiful, but this ideal largely exists in daydreams and has seen little to no practice in my life. This is not to say it is a bad holiday. Undoubtedly, however, this is exclusively a date…well, for those with a date. It’s for those in love to moon over the object of their affections. I have no such paramour to speak of. So, for my fellow singletons, there are so many things to celebrate. I for one am determined not to spend the time bemoaning my fate while elbow deep in a family sized carton of ice cream.
Among other things which happened on February 14th that radically changed human history while not funding the Hallmark holiday-capitalist complex, I was able to find quite a few notable events. No offense to St. Valentine – I’m sure he was a great guy. In 1556, Akbar was crowned as the third ruler of the Mughal Empire and provided many amusing folktales from his interactions with the witty minister Birbal. Akbar the Great is known for his religious tolerance and was a rule that provided both political and economic stability in India. Another event that occured on this holiday was that voting machines were approved for federal elections in the U.S. in 1899, and ARE a valid way of counting ballots (regardless of what some pumpkin-lookalike past presidents may claim). Probably the most relevant event to our generation is the launching of video-streaming platform Youtube. The platform was initially the pet project of a group of college students and went live in 2005. I don’t know what I would do without the ‘rip vine’ compilations to keep me sane.
Hawaii celebrates another important event on February 14th. Hau’oli La Ho’omake ia Kapena Kuke, or Happy Death of Captain Cook Day, celebrates the day native Hawaiians halted the colonial voyage of the syphilis-ridden naval captain. It resulted in wild rumors about cannibalism and demigods, but I am getting ahead of myself. Cook came not once, not twice, but thrice to Hawaii. As distinguished professor Lilikalā K. Kame’eleihiwa puts it, the H.M.S. Resolution touched down for the first time and brought Venereal Disease to the Hawaiian islands in 1788. The shipmen were riddled with the likes of syphilis and gonorrhea and were well aware of what exactly they were spreading on their brief jaunt to collect fresh water. The second time the men moored, they coincidentally came during the celebration of the fertility god (yes, ironic I know) Lono and were thought to have been the prophesied Lono himself coming (as if). They left after taking full advantage of the entirely unwarranted hospitality but returned for the third and final time shortly after due to their damaged ship.
The fact that Cook and his crew returned after the festival was their first mistake. Returning with a broken mast and showing they were not in fact gods who could control the wind was their second strike. However, the nail in the coffin was the very mortal crew succumbing to injuries and disease. These were mortal men that were long due for payback. The indigenous people made quick work of Cook. It was a deed quickly finished, and many families claim the credit for finishing the job. At the very least, they were kind enough to return the remains to the ship. In doing so, Hawaiians halted the rampage of a colonial power in the Pacific.
We can choose to go the traditional route of placating ourselves with symbols of the holiday that are self-bought, sighing into the flowers we gifted ourselves with a small box of chocolates we picked on the way out of the store ‘as a treat’. Or, we can choose to reframe this date as just another day where momentous and ordinary things happened, because it is just another turn of the Earth during a revolution around the sun. I’m looking forward to celebrating hate and violence for a day, especially if it is in an anticolonial context. Full disclosure, you will still find me making full use of my favorite holiday: discount chocolate day on February 15th.