CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Valentine's Day. Is there any other holiday purporting to celebrate something so affirming and positive as love that makes so many people feel inadequate and blue?
Despite the popularity of single-girl-power series such as "Girls" and "Sex and the City," society as a whole is often seen as treating singletons as if they're flawed or lacking in some respect. Naturally, for many singles, February 14 looms large as an annual reminder of these supposed flaws and the glaring loneliness that goes with it.
Just for the record, I've known plenty of incredibly flawed people who somehow found each other and ended up with a perfect match -- so the theory itself is flawed, but somehow it persists.
Oddly enough, even those "coupled up" can be intimidated by the de rigueur obligations of V-day: the "just the right" card, the perfect gift, and then the extravagant three- to four-course dinner.
So what is this day that causes so much consternation?
Interestingly, the origin of Valentine's Day itself is rather conflicted and decidedly unromantic.
The most common belief is that it began as an honor to St. Valentine, a 3rd-century priest who defied Emperor Claudius II's edicts against soldiers marrying. The pagan Emperor believed unmarried soldiers made a more effective, loyal and formidable army. Priest Valentine married them in secret anyway.
When the Emperor caught wind of this, he threw Valentine in prison and demanded that he convert to the pagan faith. Valentine refused and he was publicly beheaded on... you guessed it... Feb. 14.