Learn the Origins of Valentine’s Day

Gabbi Decareau

“You rock, Valentine!! Love, Zoe,” junior Nicole Tuszynski reads as she eagerly opens a colorful bag of Pop Rocks (get it, rocks??), from her classmate. She rummages through her Valentine’s Day shoebox, decorated with glittery heart stickers, and discovers a variety of punny cards and delicious candies. Every Feb. 14, people worldwide celebrate love and friendship by exchanging candy, cards, and flowers. Oftentimes, kids and teenagers look forward to Valentine’s day because of the in-class parties, card exchanges, and if you attend Miramonte, choir grams!

Although many might see Valentine’s Day as a simple occasion filled with gift-giving and chocolate, they may not know the origins of this 1500-year holiday. Valentine’s Day was once a Christian feast day that honored Saint Valentine. At the time, Rome banned their citizens from marriages and engagements. Saint Valentine sought to fix the injustice of the decree and secretly performed marriages for young lovers. He was eventually caught and martyred (someone who is killed because of their religious beliefs). There are many tales connected to Saint Valentine; however, the most commonly told legend claims that Roman Emperor Claudius II Gothicus imprisoned Saint Valentine for ministering to Christians, persecuted under the Roman Empire, and for writing a letter to a jailer’s daughter signed ‘Your Valentine.’ Legend has it that Saint Valentine signed the letter as a farewell before his execution. Since then, Valentine’s Day exploded in popular culture, becoming known as a day of hearts, doves, and (occasionally unsettling) winged cupids.

On the week of Valentine’s Day, Miramonte’s Leadership class diligently decorates the campus creating a Valentine’s wonderland. Red and pink posters temporarily cover the contentious salmon-colored walls, Leadership hangs up streamers and paper hearts all around the school, and the Wellness Center provides fun activities for the students during brunch and lunch. 

“Every year, we set up a station with Valentine’s cards and encourage students to write a little love note to themselves,” wellness intake specialist Ellen Zapalac said. This event is a fun and interactive way for students to write expressive notes and earn a few pieces of candy.

Miramonte’s Chamber Choir also embraces the spirit of Valentine’s Day by selling ‘choir grams,’ which can be purchased the week prior to Valentine’s day (this year they can be purchased on Feb. 8) for friends, significant others, teachers, etc.

“Choir grams make Valentine’s Day fun because they give students and teachers a break from class and bring lots of excitement,” Chamber singer and junior Logan Gunn said. Gunn participated in this amusing event last year and enjoyed bringing many smiles to students’ and teachers’ faces.

“It creates a common experience that all students share throughout the day. You can hear people chatting about it in between classes and trying to guess who might get a choir gram or what happened when someone in their class got one,” choir teacher Meredith Hawkins said. Many students and parents purchase choir grams making it an all-day event for the chamber singers. There is no particular order for who the chamber singers visit, but if a student receives a gram, the entire hallway will certainly know. 

“I remember when they aggressively banged on the door while Mr. Henderson was in the middle of his lecture. We all jumped,” Tuszynksi said. “We all turned around and the chamber singers came running into the class all dressed up. They made my classmate sit at the front and face the entire class, while they sang “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars.”

The talented group of singers weave between the desks and make their way toward the front of the classroom. They prompt the student or students receiving the choir gram to proudly sit at the front of the class and face their classmates. Immediately, they circle around the student/students and serenade them with melodic, romantic songs. Laughter fills the room, cameras quickly whip out, and signs of embarrassment arise on the student’s face at the front of the classroom. While this is one way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, there are many other ways the world celebrates this joyous and memorable occasion.