By Kelly Edwards, LPC Associate, LMFT Associate
Even in a “normal” year, Valentine’s Day gets its share of eye rolls. Deemed a “Hallmark holiday” by many, it’s increasingly considered a day designed not for cherishing and honoring loved ones, but for commerce and profit. The result? A lot of couples simply opt out.
This year, in the middle of a pandemic, there are even more reasons to avoid the typical Valentine’s tropes (at least those that involve public places). And yet, this is a year when most people could probably use a little extra love—from others, themselves, and the world at large. And someone’s need for that kind of love has nothing to do with their relationship status.
And so this year, rather than swearing off the holiday or feeling sad that you can’t participate in it the way you may have planned, I’d like to recommend an alternative approach to celebrating February 14.
In Spanish, Valentine’s Day is often referred to as El Día del Amor y la Amistad (The Day of Love and Friendship). I prefer this name because of its inherent inclusivity—it makes the holiday a celebration of all forms of love, not just romantic ones.
What if we used the Spanish name as a template for our own traditions, starting with this year? Rather than focusing solely on romantic love (regardless of whether you’re in a relationship at the moment), we could focus our energy on all of the people in our lives we want to show appreciation for.
Here are 3 easy ways you might celebrate Valentine’s Day (or El Día del Amor y la Amistad) with friends:
- Host an in-person dinner for close friends in your quarantine pod, or host a dinner for an extended group of friends on Zoom.
- Share recipes for some of your favorite dishes with your friends—even if you don’t eat together on video, it could feel special to know you’re all eating the same meal, in a sense, at the same time.
- Pick a feel-good movie and decide to watch it with friends at the same time and group-text or video-stream with each other while you’re watching.
It’s also a great day to simply be kind to yourself. Regardless of whether you’re single, take the opportunity to show love to yourself as well as others. Here are a few suggestions for how you might “treat yo’ self”!
- Cook your favorite meal, or splurge and get takeout from your favorite restaurant.
- Indulge with a glass of wine and a bath bomb you love.
- Take a gentle or restorative yoga class, either live or pre-recorded.
- Go for a walk in your favorite park.
- Grab a pastry from your favorite bakery.
What you do isn’t really important—what matters is that you take care of yourself and find something that feels indulgent or special to you.
You always deserve kindness, and there’s even more reason this year to grant some to yourself. So rather than swearing off February 14, consider spending it by celebrating all of the love in your life, as well as the love for life itself.