Valentine’s day seems to split the world into people who have a date and people who don’t; making the latter group feel as if they’re missing out.

But I’ve never celebrated Valentine’s day with a date and, in my mind, that hasn’t made the holiday any less exciting. To me, Valentine’s day has never been about a boyfriend or girlfriend, but about finding an excuse to celebrate with the people I love.

This can be people very close to my heart such as friends and family, or even (not to get meta) myself.  It’s a good day to remind yourself that there are people who care about you and who you love back.

I probably owe this lack of cynicism around the day to my ability to overlook anything in the name of chocolate and to my elementary school’s insistence on celebrating every single occasion with backed goods heaped high onto squares of paper towel.

All through elementary school, we would celebrate Valentine’s day by passing out cards and candy. No one was discriminatory with their Valentines. The rule was: you give a card to everyone or to no one at all. We would put our spoils in paper bags and run home, bragging to each other about how cool are Valentines were, and more specifically how many of our Valentines had those candy heart lollipops or kisses attached to them. 

Now, I wouldn’t say I have a deep love for every single one of my elementary school classmates, but Valentine’s day was an excuse for us all to take an afternoon off spelling and math and focus on celebrating with each other.

As I entered high school and it was no longer acceptable to force all your students to espouse their love for each other, my Valentine’s day turned from a full classroom affair to a more intimate gathering.

Usually, my group of girlfriends would get together with our guy friends and all of us would go for dinner at the Pickle Barrel (the height of sophistication). We would annoy our servers to no end by making them split the cheque 10 different ways. We created further problems by ordering burgers without any of toppings.

It was an excuse to dress up, experiment with lipstick, and flirt with boys, even though, at the time, I was grossed out by the thought that any of them liked me back.

Now in university, a lot more of my friends are spending Valentine’s day with their significant others, but that hasn’t changed my view of it. I still wake up and a don some ceremonial red clothing and text my parents and friends who are far away “Happy Valentine’s day”.

Every year, my friends and I have celebrated some sort of Galentine’s day (or should I say Gaelentine’s day). We’ve done this by going out to dinner, watching a movie, and usually drinking some wine.  Last year, one of my housemates even got us all candy grams and stuck them to our doors the morning of.

So, this year, make February 14th an occasion to celebrate. Buy one of your friends a box of chocolate, buy yourself a box of chocolate, call your parents, go to the club, there are no limits. We’re all so busy with school and extracurriculars that it’s nice to have a day where you can tell yourself it’s okay to relax and celebrate a little.

Taking the evening off won’t solve all your problems but it may remind you that life, joy and love (in all forms) is worth celebrating.

Tessa Warburton is an online contributor

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