University News

Campus embraces Valentine’s Day

Brown looks back on holiday’s history, forward to celebrating love over the long weekend

Senior Staff Writer
Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine’s Day — the heart- and cherub-filled holiday that inspires love, dread and excuses for chocolate — is just around the corner. From planning romantic getaways to buying tickets to “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Brown students are prepared for Feb. 14.

Though people have celebrated Valentine’s Day since the fifth century, the holiday was not connected with passionate love until the 14th century, when English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a poem called “Parliament of Foules,” according to the Huffington Post.

Courtly love in the West became fashionable during the 12th century for the cultural and social elite, said Virginia Krause, professor of French studies, who teaches the first-year seminar FREN 0720A: “From Courtly Love to Postmodern Desire.” During this period, there was a consensus that romantic love was reserved for a “small, enlightened portion of the population” and that it could happen outside of marriage, she said. Marriage was seen as an obstacle to courtly love because rather than “placing a woman on a pedestal,” husbands gained authority over their wives, she added.

There was no equivalent day to the modern Valentine’s Day in the 12th century, because love was perceived as “the antithesis of public celebration,” Krause said.

Mark Cladis, professor of religious studies, offered a different perspective. One theory suggests that in many ways, romantic and passionate love stems back to love directed at God and was only afterwards readdressed toward human beings, he said. Cladis’s class RELS 0050: “Love: The Concept and Practice” investigates the idea that love for God is only fulfilled in death, and how that idea contributed to “the notion that true love is ultimately passionate, painful and culminates in death,” he said.

“Cupid’s arrows are sharp and lead to madness. Not much for Hallmark cards here,” Cladis added.

Brown undergraduates also took their chance at defining what they believe love is. At an event in the Blue Room held by Alpha Chi Omega Thursday, students used white boards to express what love means to them. Responses included “mutual respect,” “healthy communication,” “putting someone else first” and “friends.”

“We do this event around Valentine’s Day every year to spread awareness about domestic violence,” said AXO member Ah Young Choe ’15.

The University and different student groups have planned many events around campus this Valentine’s Day to keep spirits high and to show affection and appreciation for others.

For those who forgot to make reservations for candlelit dinners or chose not to, Brown Dining Services will keep up its tradition of providing holiday-themed meals with a Valentine’s Day edition. The Sharpe Refectory will be decorated in a red-and-white Valentine’s Day theme Saturday, said Bobby Machado, assistant manager for residential dining. There will be candy in addition to surprise special desserts, he added.

Mariachi de Brown offered students and faculty members an opportunity to spread the love by sending a passionate serenade of traditional folklore music to a friend or loved one. “We have a serenade coming up in one of the dining halls and a few private ones on Saturday,” said group member Silvina Hernandez ’17, adding that because the holiday is during the long weekend, they have gotten fewer serenade requests than in previous years.

Brunothon, the University’s first annual dance marathon, fundraised for Hasbro Children’s Hospital by selling Teddygrams. “Brown students are more excited about Valentine’s Day than I thought,” said Naz Akyol ’17, adding that Teddygrams was their most successful fundraiser thus far.

While many undergrads have made dinner reservations at restaurants on Federal Hill, some students are taking advantage of Valentine’s Day falling on the long weekend and going on romantic getaways.

Mikala Murad ’16 and her boyfriend planned a Valentine’s Day weekend trip to a “really cute, cheap place in Maine,” she said. Both of them are looking forward to getting away from campus for a few days, she added.

Some students are traveling even further than just out-of-state: Beth Anne George ’17 and her boyfriend are going to Jamaica. “We organized this trip because of the long weekend, but it falling on Valentine’s Day is an additional plus,” George said, adding that she always celebrates Valentine’s Day in one way or another.

“It became a tradition that my mom would send me a package on Valentine’s Day every year while I was at boarding school,” she said. There are different types of love and Valentine’s Day is more than just about the romance, she added.

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  1. Thea A. Fattas says:

    What a stupid article.

  2. We should be getting rid of physical plant and making love to the world through online camshows.

    Happy Valentines day

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