Choir Grams Latest Valentine Tradition

Jessica Rosiak and Amanda Young

Valentine’s Day is not only a time to celebrate the modern message of love but also one to remember the origins from which it came.

Campolindo celebrated the day with Valentine’s grams, performed by seniors in the Chamber Choir. Students who purchased grams were able to choose from a pre-selected list of songs and have one of them sung to another classmate during class time on Wednesday, February 14.

Senior ASB President and Chamber Choir singer Ethan Sauerberg explained that people react in different ways to receiving the grams. “It really depends on the person,” said Sauerberg. “Some people are excited; some people are nervous. It’s awkward for some people.”

While the brief performances interrupted instruction in many classrooms across campus, they have been a tradition for many years. “Honestly, it’s just a lot of fun. The singers enjoy it, and I know that people sending them and receiving them often do too,” said Sauerberg.

While the chamber choir picks up a few bucks for its program through the activity, it is nothing compared to the profits made by corporations who are cashing in on the “Hallmark” event. According to USA Today, the holiday rakes in $143.56 per consumer, leading to total spending of approximately $19.6 billion. 110 million roses were sold, and $1.8 billion was spent on candy.

Valentine’s Day dates as far back as 496 CE. Although Valentine grams, red hearts, roses, and chocolate candies are contemporary symbols for the holiday, few understand how the tradition originated.

Hundreds of years ago, Roman emperor Claudius II banned marriage because he believed it would create poor soldiers. Even with the harsh consequences, St. Valentine, a Roman Catholic priest, continued to officiate weddings. Some stories say that after he was taken to jail, Valentine fell in love with the jail keeper’s daughter and sent her a letter signed “From your Valentine.”

Some say that the holiday was purposely created to Christianize the pagan festival of Lupercalia, dedicated to the Roman gods and leaders. The priests of the Roman temples sacrificed goats and dogs in an effort to please the gods and create a fertile spring; the commemoration was outlawed by Pope Gelasius.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated across the globe in various forms. The Chinese commemorate their own form of the day with Qixi, the 7th Night Festival. On this day, young women concoct offerings of fruits and melons to Zhinu, a heavenly king’s daughter, in hopes of finding a husband.

In Wales, people give each other spoons to express their love. Italians traditionally celebrate Valentine’s Day as “Spring Festival” where music and poetry readings are performed. In Denmark, in a tradition originating in the 1990s, lovers exchange pressed white flowers known as “Snowdrops.”  Men often send humorous “gaekkebrev,” or anonymous letters; a woman who correctly guesses the author is rewarded with an Easter egg the following spring.