by Stefanie | 02.14.22
The month of February has been associated with fertility, love and romance in one way or another for more than 2,000 years. The ancient Romans celebrated the festival of Lupercalia on February 15 each year, in the hopes that the ritual sacrifices they made would guarantee the fertility of both their women and their crops.
Eventually the church decided that Lupercalia was decidedly “un-Christian” and replaced it with St. Valentine’s Day, which took place each year on February 14. There were actually three saints by the name of Valentine and no one knows exactly which one deserves the credit. Regardless, St. Valentine’s Day was more a celebration of heroism than of love. And it did the job of kicking Lupercalia to the curb.
It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that Valentine’s Day garnered its association with love and romance. The first “modern” written Valentine message was recorded in the year 1415, and since then, Valentine’s Day has spread like wildfire. More than 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are mailed each year, and Americans alone spend more than $22 billion on gifts for partners, friends and even pets.
That’s a lot of cash and also a lot of pressure to show up and show out. If you’re in a relationship, you must buy flowers, candy and jewelry. Don’t forget to make reservations at an overpriced restaurant so you can create a night s/he will never forget! And if you’re single, you’re expected to just jump in and declare your love for someone, and then wait in agony to see if they feel the same. Or you can sit alone on your couch and cry into a box of chocolates because, as pop culture dictates, being single on Valentine’s Day is just the saddest thing ever.
But is it really? Being single on Valentine’s Day, or any other day, is no reason for tears or pity. Turn off The Hallmark Channel, take a break from social media and turn your attention to the most important and most often neglected thing in your life—you!
Each of us has a light inside; a fire that needs to be tended and nurtured. There will always be outside forces looking to diminish your light, and too often it is easier to give in than to fight. But stand your ground, give yourself some room to breathe, and then stoke that fire the way that only you can.
Did you know that only three things are needed to make a fire in nature: a heat source, fuel and oxygen. If you take any one of those three away, the fire will fade until it's finally extinguished.
The fire that burns inside each of us needs those same three elements:
Heat - What gets your energy flowing? What warms your heart and soul?
Fuel - How can you feed the flame inside?
Oxygen - Are you allowing yourself the freedom to breathe deeply and pursue those things that you love?
Each facet is necessary to keep that fire going strong.
Before any plane trip, the pre-flight safety announcements always say something to the effect of, “Make sure your oxygen mask fits properly before you assist anyone else.” As much as you want to give to those you love, you can’t help anyone if your own oxygen isn’t flowing freely.
Use that same logic in your everyday life. Treat yourself, be self-indulgent when you need to, use self-care as self-love, and always follow your own heart.
A great place to start is to think way back to when you were a kid; when simple pleasures really were the best. Maybe you loved reading and transporting yourself to far-off places, perhaps riding bicycles with neighborhood friends or pickup basketball games were the absolute best. Putting on impromptu dance recitals and DIY science experiments might also rank high on your list. Regardless, the fact is that just about everyone, everywhere had something they loved to do, without having an agenda behind it.
As an adult, time is tight and money can sometimes be even tighter. But you owe it to yourself to find something that fills your cup and renews your childhood sense of fun and adventure. If you’ve always loved music but have been scared to put yourself out there, join an amateur choir that makes singing a no-stress event. More into athletics? There are thousands of adult sports leagues that welcome players of every level. If you’re looking for more of a self-guided activity, delving into something like genealogy can be a way to use your excellent sleuthing skills and, bonus, find out more about who you are and where you come from.No matter what you choose, make your relationship with yourself the priority, rather than focusing on someone else first. And for the love of cupid, keep tending to that inner flame no matter what month it is. In the words of Meghan Trainor, “I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast. I love y'all, but I love me the most.”