As February rolls around each year, students look forward to Valentine’s Day with increasing anticipation. The holiday conjures up beautiful heart-shaped decorations, spending time with loved ones, and of course boxes and boxes of chocolate. However, along with the typical pink-and-red decorations seen all across the country on this day, Westminster has some special Valentine’s Day traditions that truly make the holiday unique on campus.
Why celebrate Valentine’s Day, though? Although most people do not know this, the holiday has its roots in an ancient Roman festival of love called the feast of Lupercalia held on February 14th every year. In the 3rd century A.D., the Roman emperor Claudius II executed two men, both named Valentine, on February 14th in different years. Later, the Catholic Church transformed the pagan feast day into a Catholic holiday called St. Valentine’s Day, with a special focus on love.
While Westminster does not sacrifice animals like the Romans did on this date thousands of years ago, we still keep the spirit of love alive through popular yearly traditions. The longest-lasting and most beloved of these traditions is the selling of Valentine’s Day cards outside the lunchroom. Writing a card is a great way to get a message to that special someone without all the hassle of talking to them face-to-face.
“You can write a message and write who you want to send it to,” said senior class president Isabel Morgan. “The class officers will attach candy to the card and deliver it during homeroom. It’s usually a lot of fun for people.”
However, like most things that sound too good to be true, such as Willy’s burritos, skipping an assembly, or getting all A’s, there is a price.
“The Valentine’s Day cards cost a dollar,” said senior co-chair Meghna Patel. “All the money goes towards Habitat for Humanity.”
Luckily, buying the Valentine’s Day card is well worth the dollar for the potential to build a strong, lasting relationship with a special friend. However, if buying Valentine’s Day cards does not interest you, there are other ways to participate in Valentine’s Day on campus. The most popular and well-known Valentine’s Day tradition at Westminster is the Data Match survey. Every year, a series of important character-defining questions are sent out in a schoolwide survey.
“There are usually fun questions on the online quiz we send out for the whole school,” said Morgan. “The survey results are sorted by highest percentage and lowest percentage, and whoever has the highest percent of similar answers to you is your ‘match’.”
Every student can buy the results to their Data Match for just two dollars outside the lunchroom. As well as learning who to potentially buy a Valentine’s Day card for, you also learn who to avoid with a list of people who did not give answers similar to yours on their surveys. The Data Match is sorted by grade and entire school, so everyone can see some familiar and unfamiliar names on their results.
For students who love to listen to music with their friends or loved ones on Valentine’s day, Westminster does not disappoint in that regard either. Every year, Men’s and Women’s A Cappella perform songs about love in Pressly Foyer to adoring crowds. Although they sing without instrumental accompaniment, MAC and WAC are often considered two of Westminster’s best singing groups.
“I have a lot of close friends in MAC and WAC, and I enjoy seeing them onstage,” said senior Ethan Denning. “The music choices are always exquisite.”
This year, MAC brought out classics such as the Commodores’ “Easy” and two Billy Joel hits: “She’s Always a Woman” and “For the Longest Time.” WAC sang “Always Be my Baby” by Mariah Carey, “Wings” by Little Mix, and “All-Time Low” by Jon Bellion.
Although Westminster seems to be in the Valentine’s Day spirit every February 14th, there are a few staples of the holiday that Westminster does not participate in. For years, the Valentine’s Day dance allowed students to show off their best swing dance moves and catch a much-needed break from school as the work begins to pile up in the second semester. However, the dance has recently been moved to late March to attract a larger turnout.
“A lot of people didn’t go to the Valentine’s Day dance because they thought it would have negative connotations with the emphasis on love,” said Morgan. “Last year, we decided to switch it up a little to get a better turnout and move the date of the dance. This year it’s called the Spring Dance.”
While you might have to wait until March 22nd to show off your best dance moves, there was still a bonanza of opportunities to have fun on Valentine’s Day this year, beginning with the letter writing for the Office of Institutional Advancement.
“[The OIA staff] came to student government and told us about their idea to thank Westminster donors,” said Patel. “They had a photo booth available and gave out gift cards to the people that wrote the most thank-you notes.”
This activity run by the Office of Institutional Advancement was a chance for students to show appreciation to donors that help make Westminster such an amazing place. While traditions such as buying Valentine’s Day cards, anxiously viewing your data match, and listening to energetic yet harmonically sound music in the MAC/WAC concert remain a part of Westminster’s Valentine’s Day experience, a few experiences have been dropped over the years.
“We used to give out roses with the Valentine’s Day cards,” said Patel. “However, we had to stop that because it was hard to store and keep track of them.”
Imagine the joy on your boyfriend or girlfriend’s face when he or she realized you had not only written them a sweet note, but given them a bouquet of roses! Alas, you must buy them at Publix yourself to achieve this effect. Even though Valentine’s Day in 2018 has come and gone, the spirit of love, joy, giving, and eating chocolate does not have to leave campus as well. Westminster’s many traditions allow the positive emotions to be sparked in each student’s hearts, but the true essence of Valentine’s Day still lives within us all.