Let’s redefine love on and beyond Valentine’s Day


Courtesy / Meg Query

Kathryn Williams, Editor in Chief

Each year we approach Valentine’s Day with mixed emotions. For some, it is a day of starry-eyed celebrations filled with love and chocolate. For others, it is an occasion for eye-rolling and waiting 24 hours to get the chocolate at half price. 

Valentine’s Day is often criticized for being a Hallmark holiday that represents nothing more than corporate greed and the desire to commercialize love. This may be a somewhat accurate statement. After all, Forbes estimated that Americans would spend a collective $23.9 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2022, an average $175.41 per person. Now, before you Valentine’s Day haters start taking aim at cupid for these outrageous figures, let’s look towards the meaning of the holiday.

The simple answer is love (cue the eye-rolls). But let’s dive a little deeper. It is a day that is focused on expressing love to people you care about. It is characteristically focused on significant others, hence some of the deep-seeded resentment. In reality, the holiday is about whatever you decide it is, not the card companies. This is evident in the popular “Galentine’s Day” celebrations that women host to show their affection for close friends, or campaigns centered around self-love.

Whether you love or despise Valentine’s Day in its traditional sense, I challenge you to reconsider how you define and express love this year. Think of the people you love, perhaps friends and family. Think of the ways you can show love to them, whether it be flowers or a phone call. 

Think of the people you interact with every day. They may be strangers, but how can you show them love? The obvious Anselmian answer is to hold the door. Don’t get me wrong, that is a great tradition, but we can do more! Give someone a compliment and watch how it transforms their day. Invite someone to share a meal with you. Ask someone how they are doing and truly show them that you care about their answer. 

Also think about the people you may not know who are in need of love. Think of the homeless population in Manchester who didn’t have a roof over their heads during the bitter cold. Think of people who are isolated from their loved ones or feel unworthy of love. Think of people struggling with poverty, addiction, or mental illness. In summary, think of our often forgotten neighbors. How can we love our neighbors this Valentine’s Day and beyond?

Service is foundational to the Benedictine identity here at Saint Anselm College. It is also one way that we can love our neighbors. Consider volunteering for the local community through the Meelia Center. Consider working in the food pantry at Saint Raphael or helping with food recovery through Campus Ministry. Consider getting involved with the Harbor to support those in need of love and support. Consider signing up for a Relay for Life team and raising money for the American Cancer Society. If you have a desire to step outside of your comfort zone, consider signing up for an Anselmian B.R.E.A.K. trip or walking the Road for Hope. However you feel called to show love to your neighbors, let this holiday be your catalyst and keep the momentum going even after the chocolate is all sold out.

Another important way that we can show love is to intentionally recognize the dignity of those around us. This kind of love means being there for one another, to listen and support our community members. There are numerous spaces and opportunities on-campus where you can learn and grow in love for others. This month there are several programs honoring Black History Month and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Campus Ministry is also launching a new series called “Spill the Tea” which aims to bring people together to bridge cultural or religious divides. The Harbor will host events this month and next leading up to Sexual Assault Awareness month in April. These efforts are largely centered on racial equity in advocacy (for more info please see Flannery Moore’s article on pages 10/11). 

While these programs and spaces exist to foster an environment of love, education, and mutual respect, I challenge you to evaluate how you can create these kinds of opportunities in your everyday life. Each day brings a new chance for you to do something good and to make someone feel loved.