Valentine's Day: Then & Now

When we think of Valentine’s Day, some of the things that first come to mind are roses, candy, love, hearts and so on. There’s a chance that these have always been the things you think of when you think of Valentine’s Day, but the way this day is celebrated has changed so much over the course of your life. The reality is that now, as a college student, Valentine’s Day is almost nothing like it was as a kid.


In elementary school, Valentine’s Day was the shit. The only things that mattered were gifts from your parents and the candy you were likely to get from your classmates. You could spend the entire day looking forward to a sugar high as you devoured all the candy and cookies your heart desired without your mom telling you no.

Even as tiny humans, the love expressed on Valentine’s Day was so clear. Not in the sense of dating and relationships, but familial love and love between friends. We loved the people who played with us at recess, we loved the friends who would come over to our houses. We loved our moms and dads and siblings and pets. Valentine’s Day was the day to show express all that love.

In preparation for the big day, your teacher would give you a list naming all 24 or so of your closest friends, a.k.a the people you had to get cards and candy for. Your parents would take you out to Walmart or Walgreens so you could pick out Valentine’s Day cards and you would be stumped by all the choices. Was it cooler to have Disney themed cards? Maybe the cards with the lollipops were the move... should you get different sets of cards for the people in your class? So. Many. Choices.

If you were fancy, you might have constructed a Valentine’s Day mailbox with construction paper and glitter, a place where everyone could put the cards and candy they had so graciously decided to address to you. On the day of, the classroom would be covered in pink and red construction paper hearts. Your classwork would probably have something to do with love or hearts and everyone would be squirming in their seats, anxiously awaiting the moment where the boring classwork would come to a halt and you could pass out the cards you bought and carefully addressed. Valentine's Day was fabulous and so much fun.


As a college student, Valentine’s Day, known affectionately by some as Thursday, is what you make of it. For some, Valentine's Day is really just a holiday invented by Scorpios to create more Scorpios. For others, Valentine's Day is the day where all the couples out there have a right to rub it in that they're in a relationship while the rest of us are single. Gone are the days of themed coloring pages and passing out corny cards to everyone. What replaces those old Valentine’s Day traditions depends on you. Sorry to say, but your professor probably isn't going to stop class to have 100+ students who don't know each other exchange love-filled cards.

As an adult, the Valentine's Day festivities are totally up to you to plan. If you’re in a relationship, you might celebrate by finally getting your significant other that elaborate gift they've been tweeting about since November. If you're into it, you could go on a fancy dinner date to a place you would never be able to afford without some advanced planning. You might plan a special day or night to show your love for your significant other.

If you’re planning to celebrate with your girls, you might gather for a Galentine’s Day brunch, getting the cutest Instagram pictures and showing these amazing women that you would actually be a mess without them. And if you have no plans, you might feel the thrill of receiving a holiday-appropriate snap from Team Snapchat to fill the void left by the cheesy cards you used to get as a kid.

Despite it all, one thing hasn’t changed. Valentine’s Day is still a day to show love in the most expressive of forms. Relationship or not, this one of the best times to show someone else how much you care for and appreciate them in your life. Whether that person is a significant other, a best friend, a family member, etc. there is no better time to show them that they are of value to you. Before you say it, I know you can show this any other day, but why not on Valentine’s Day when the whole ambiance is full of love?

Images: 1, 4

Image 2 provided by Kristin Martinez, Image 3 provided by Lena Daniels.