Six years ago, my parents went on a trip, leaving me home alone during Valentine’s Day weekend.
And the greatest tradition of my young life was born.
On Feb. 14, I came home to an empty house on a cold, dark night. I was used to a loud house with a lot of people around, so I felt lonely as I rummaged through the kitchen for my solitary dinner. But then, I saw a coupon on the refrigerator for a Valentine’s Day special at the local pizza joint.
Suddenly, I realized that being alone in an empty house, even on Valentine’s Day, was possibly the greatest thing that had happened to me. I didn’t have to worry about anyone watching me so I ordered a pizza, put on some girly boxers, and cranked up “Hips Don’t Lie.”
When the pizza came, I didn’t even bother using a plate. Instead, I ate all eight slices straight out of the box while I watched “Leap Year.” I wasn’t wallowing in loneliness or throwing a pity party. I simply enjoyed being completely alone and unselfconsciously unwinding after a long day of highschool drama.
Every year since that 2014 Valentine’s Day, I have repeated the tradition, and next to Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s the highlight of my year.
And as life has gotten busier, having a specific time set apart to be alone and enjoy myself has become increasingly important to my sanity, especially in the midst of dreary, cold February.
If you’re single, it’s easy to wallow on Valentine’s Day and wish you had someone to take you out to a nice dinner. But enjoy the time you have alone and use Valentine’s Day to be by yourself and relax. Besides, there are real emotional and health benefits to having alone time. It can relieve anxiety and stress, increase empathy, spark creativity, and increase productivity, according to a Forbes study.
But spending Valentine’s Day alone shouldn’t just be for single people. While spending time with your significant other is obviously important, Valentine’s Day is just a commercial holiday, and couples shouldn’t feel pressure to spend money on romantic gestures. Buy your lover flowers and chocolate any other day of the year, when the prices aren’t jacked up for the so-called holiday.
Historically, Valentine’s Day originated from the Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was held in mid-February as a celebration of the coming of spring and fertility. Pope Gelasius I later sanitized and Christianized the holiday by tying it to the legends of St. Valentine.
But today, Valentine’s Day has no real meaning or substance besides that which Hallmark, the chocolatiers, and the lingerie companies give it. It’s a consumer, commercial day for buying overpriced things that the market has deemed romantic for your love interest.
Instead of giving into the commercialism or wallowing in self-pity because you have no one to buy you things, just revel in being alone.
Abby Liebing is a senior studying history. She is the associate editor for The Collegian.