Be my valentine

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As pink candies and heart-shaped trinkets fill stores, people express either their love or hate for Valentine’s Day, and the category in which most people fall changes from year to year, depending on whether they have a lover or not. There’s no reason that this holiday should just be for those struck by Cupid’s arrows.

It’s so easy to get caught up in work and school that holidays serve as a necessary reminder to appreciate the important people in our lives. We have Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and many other days to celebrate important people in our lives, but there is no widely recognized American holiday to recognize our friends.

In elementary school we were taught to bring Valentines for everyone so that no one felt left out. As time progresses, people give Valentines to a select few, usually just close friends. Eventually, the holiday ceases to be a day to make everyone feel welcome and loved. Lovesick couples are too busy constructing romantic surprises for their significant other; people forget their single friends and their friends whose sweethearts are miles away at another college or in Iraq.

Over 214 million roses were produced for Valentine’s Day last year, according to www.aboutflowers.com. Ten percent of the people that purchased roses sent the flowers to themselves, and only 7 percent sent them to friends. People are more worried about appearing unloved than spreading love to other people. The more that you show people how much you care about them, the more they will reciprocate.

Valentine’s Day dates as far back as Ancient Roman times. Feb. 15 was named Lupercalia, an archaic rite of fertility with overtones of romance when half-naked males would run the streets slapping women’s outstretched hands in belief it would boost fertility. The Church attempted to Christianize this pagan holiday that lasted through the centuries. In medieval times, Geoffrey Chaucer helped transform this holiday into Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14, a day of celebrating romantic, courtly love by exchanging love notes. In this modern era, we can transform holiday traditions to supplement our own culture and beliefs.

In Finland, Feb. 14 is called “Yst퀌_v퀌_np퀌_iv퀌_”, which means “Friend’s Day.” Although it’s still a popular day to become engaged and be married, it is mainly a day for close friends to send cards and gifts to each other.

Friends are such an important part of our lives. When you suffer from a breakup or a long distance relationship, there is no one better to lean on than a good friend. When you’re stressed from school and work, there is nothing better than a friend who will tell a joke to make you laugh or take you out for relaxation. When we need advice, constructive criticism or just some fun, we turn to our friends. They deserve a day of remembrance and appreciation.

People resolved to hating this holiday can listen to Linkin Park’s “Valentine’s Day” while searching for hilarious anti-Valentine e-cards to e-mail friends. Meanwhile, it’s not necessary to line corporations’ pockets for Feb. 14. A thoughtful MySpace message, e-mail or small homemade gift is enough to lighten someone’s face with a smile. A cheap box of two-dozen Valentines or a friends’ night out is another thrifty way to celebrate Friend’s Day.

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