February 14, 2003

Love 101: Reflections on Valentine's Day

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After endless displays of roses, hearts and Cupids in storefront windows, the nationwide celebration of romance has arrived: Today, Feb. 14, is Valentine’s Day.

So what are Cornell students doing in honor of this lovers’ festival? They are seeing movies, going out to dinner, attending fraternity formals, exchanging presents and staying at home. While some in the community are getting excited by this special day, others are feigning indifference or simply feeling bitter.

“It’s a commercialized bullshit holiday. If people want to buy into it that’s fine,” said Craig Minerva ’05. “I think if the whole country is going to celebrate a holiday it should have some religious or historical importance.”

Valentine’s Day may not be a holiday legally recognized by the government, but Feb. 14 has been designated as the day of romance since the 14th century. The tradition finds its roots in 270 A.D. when a martyred priest signed a love note, “From your Valentine.”

Considering that University tour guides tell prospective students that supposedly 60 percent of Cornellians will marry each other, many people in Ithaca have reason to celebrate this St. Valentine’s Day.

Rory Snepar ’03 has been dating his girlfriend, Ali Galgano ’05, for ten months. In the past, Snepar was single and faced the holiday with the pressure of finding a date suitable for his fraternity’s Valentine’s Day formal. Last year, he even decided to escape the campus for Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

This year is different. Tonight Snepar will give his girlfriend a bottle of her favorite perfume and then the two will go to dinner and his formal.

“Ali is my first true Valentine. It is still hard to make tonight feel different from any other Friday night you spend with your girlfriend,” Snepar said.

Nicole Boyar ’03 and Jamie Moriarty ’03 are used to enjoying Valentine’s Day at Cornell because this is where they met over two years ago. Currently, the couple is “promised,” meaning that one day Moriarty promises to marry Boyar and love her forever.

Boyar and Moriarty intend on enjoying each other’s company today.

“I think that if you feel something about someone, you should let them know right away,” Boyar said. “Send them your love and make them feel wonderful any day, not just one day out of the year.”

Even though Moriarty professed his devotion while the two were on vacation, Cornell students can always go to Beebe Lake this evening if they hope to become engaged. Legend says that if a couple walks hand-in-hand around the edge of the water, they are destined to be married.

Not every student has a Valentine with whom they are having a romantic relationship. Many Cornellians make their parents, friends and siblings their chosen Valentines.

“I haven’t had a Valentine since the Olsen Twins were on Full House,” said Courtney Demartini ’05.

Demartini appeared hopeful that she would be receiving a care package from her mother. As for tonight, her agenda includes watching television with some friends.

Girls are not the only ones staying at home or not going out on dates. While Drew Delaney ’05 plans to spend the evening with his girlfriend, Elizabeth Green ’05, his single buddies intend to drink beer and order heart-shaped pizzas from Mama T’s.

If there are cases in which Valentine’s Day may cause feelings of dejection, different health service options are available through Gannett: University Health Services and Empathy and Referral Service (EARS).

“Feelings of loneliness and depression can come up when someone’s personal circumstances don’t live up to our culture’s hype about the holiday,” said Alice Green, assistant dean for student support. “EARS counselors are always prepared to listen and offer help when sad feelings arise.”

In the 21st century, Valentine’s Day is no longer reserved as a day meant solely to express one’s love for others. Some organizations use the holiday as a forum for voicing political and social concerns. The V-Day campaign, a nonprofit global movement that promotes an end to violence against all women, adds another meaning to Valentine’s Day: a holiday meant to celebrate women. On college campuses all over the world, V-Day puts on performances of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues in order to fundraise for their cause. For the fifth year in a row, Cornell took part in this effort.

The recognition of Valentine’s Day is not limited to the United States. In places such as Australia, France, Mexico and other countries, residents are also partaking in this day reserved for love.

Archived article by Dana Rosenberg