Valentine’s Day is hard if you’re single. Especially if it’s your first single V-Day in a while. Whether you just got divorced or went through a bad break up, the last thing you want to think about is all those happy little couples going on their happy little dates and you just wish you could wring their happy little necks. Unfortunately, that would technically be considered assault. So instead of committing a felony, celebrate something else this year. There are so many things that happened on Feb. 14 that are way cooler than some greeting card holiday. For example:
1. Do you live in Oregon or Arizona? It’s Statehood Day!
Residents of Oregon and Arizona never have to celebrate Valentine’s Day again. Feb. 14 is the anniversary of the day they became states, in 1859 and 1912 respectively. If you live in either state, you don’t even have to think about heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. When someone wishes you a happy Valentine’s Day, just smile and say right back to them, “Happy Statehood Day!” If you don’t live in one of those two states, maybe now’s the time to move. We hear Arizona is lovely this time of year. Or go to Portland and open that combination bookstore/coffee shop/puppy massage parlor you’ve always dreamed of.
2. It’s the anniversary of the first time our flag was formally recognized by a foreign naval vessel.
Feb. 14 is a big day for American history. Back in 1778, when we were still a brand new country not even a full year into the Revolutionary War, the Stars and Stripes received its first official recognition from a foreign naval vessel. (It was also the second time in history that a foreign power saluted our flag.) French Admiral Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte commanded his fleet to give the USS Ranger a nine gun salute. So this Feb. 14, thank France, both for the salute and for helping a plucky upstart nation like ours defeat that pesky British Empire!
3. It’s also the first time a sitting U.S. president had his photograph taken.
Now it’s expected that the President of the United States will have his (or her) picture taken many times before he (or she) is even elected. But back in 1849, photography were still a relatively new technology. On Feb. 14 of that year, James K. Polk went to New York City and became the first serving U.S. president to have a photograph of himself taken. Polk is actually the earliest president of whom we still have photographs from his time in office.
This Feb. 14, you can celebrate this obscure fact about our 11th president by listening to the extremely catchy “James K. Polk” by They Might Be Giants on repeat.
4. Appropriately enough, it’s the day Alexander Graham Bell applied to patent the telephone.
When he filed the patent, Alexander Graham Bell probably didn’t realize his invention would change the dating scene forever. (If there even was a “dating scene” in 1876.) He probably had bigger goals in mind, like allowing businesses and governments to communicate with each other instantly regardless of distance. And sure, that happened. But how many first dates is Bell’s invention directly responsible for? Even if you’re currently single, you can celebrate both Valentine’s Day and Bell’s invention at the same time. How? Quit stalling, pick up Bell’s marvel of modern technology and call that cute guy (or gal) you’ve had your eye on. Can’t think of anyone like that? Use it to call your mother. She’d appreciate hearing from you.
5. Celebrate the synthesis of a novel new element. For Science!
If you’re into science, Feb. 14 can mean so much more to you than the day everyone has a date but you. It’s the day we discovered a new element. In 1961, a team of nuclear physicists at the University of California synthesized the radioactive 103rd chemical element Lawrencium. How to celebrate this fact? Listen to Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements,” written before Lawrencium was discovered, and see if you can find a place for it. While you’re at it, try and memorize the song. Who knows? You might one day meet someone who will be really impressed if you manage to sing the whole thing.
6. Celebrate the founding of the League of Women Voters
Does all the advertising around Valentine’s Day seem a little sexist to you? Celebrate the founding of a group of people who’d probably agree with you. As women were fighting for (and winning) the right to vote in 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt founded the League of Women Voters on Feb. 14 to help women exercise their newly acquired right to vote, make sure women were more involved in public affairs. While everyone else is spending money on jewelry and chocolate this Valentine’s day, you could celebrate women’s suffrage by volunteering or donating to a cause you care about.
7. Celebrate a pairing that will last longer than any of ours: NEAR Shoemaker and Eros the Asteroid
8. If none of those ideas appeal to you, a lot of really cool people were born on Feb. 14:
Writer, activist and abolitionist Frederick Douglass; Actor John Barrymore; Actor and Comedian Jack Benny; Actress Florence Henderson; Actor and the best tap dancer who ever lived Gregory Hines; Singer/songwriter Tim Buckley; Actor and Comedian Simon Pegg; Actor Freddie Highmore (ask your kids.)
Don’t want to think about Valentine’s Day? Celebrate one of these birthdays instead. Curl up on the couch and watch a great movie, listen to a beautiful song, or read some of Frederick Douglass’ writing. Seriously, it’s as fascinating and powerful today as it was in the 19th century.
Getting through Valentine’s Day when you’re newly single seems tough, but it doesn’t have to be. Find something else to celebrate and you can spend Feb. 14 doing something you enjoy, rather than waiting on the phone for hours trying to get last-minute dinner reservations. We know this list isn’t even close to complete. So tell us: What will you be celebrating this year? What does Feb. 14 mean to you?