Valentine's Day: What's it all about?
Did you know that every year Americans spend almost $200 billion on Valentine’s Day? The holiday has become a massive deal in the Western world – but what is really all about?
February has long been associated with celebrating romantic relationships, starting with the Romans and their holiday of Lupercalia. On this day, Roman priests would flick both women and crop fields with strips of goat hide, which was thought to bring them fertility. Banned by the Pope, for which both the women and the fields were probably thankful, this tradition was superseded by the patron day of St Valentine. Valentine was a priest who defied Emperor Claudius II to marry young lovers in secret (the emperor had outlawed marriage for young men because he thought single men made better soldiers). When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Now, Valentine’s Day is more characterized by cards and chocolates than saints and goats, but the emphasis on love and relationships remains. So it’s the perfect time to be talking about relationships and what the best expression of love looks like. And rather than a box of chocolates or a bunch of red roses on one day of the year, we think the best expression of love is equality.
We’ve launched our Valentine’s Day competition because we want to hear about how you, your partner, your friends, parents, or role models are demonstrating gender equality in relationships. We want to be inspired by hearing about how men you know are standing up to sexism and rejecting gender stereotypes in their romantic relationships.Whether it’s choosing to be a stay-at-home dad so his wife can work, telling his friends it’s not okay to call him ‘under the thumb’ because he has an equal relationship, or talking to his kids about the importance of respecting all women and girls in their lives – we’d love to hear from you and we will be offering a restaurant voucher worth £50 for the best submission.
First Man Standing is a campaign which wants to use personal stories to inspire and equip all men to stand up for gender equality – we want to learn from each other what ‘equality’ looks like in everyday life and what forms it takes. You can read about men committed to equality and submit your own entry for the competition here.
We want to see a world without any kind of gender inequality. Changing the world starts at home, and we want to use February 14th this year to talk about how we can make those small but significant changes in our own relationships. We'll be continuing the conversation on Twitter and Facebook, sharing stories, facts, videos, resources and quizzes – join us, and celebrate equality this Valentine’s Day!
Valentine’s Day Competition: what you need to know
Prize: £50 restaurant voucher
What: Write a few lines about an act or attitude of equality shown by a man in your life – be it a friend, partner, colleague, parent – in a romantic relationship.
How: Enter on our website here. We’ll choose a winner after Valentine's Day and let you know by email.