By: Erin Meek
Nobody enjoys Valentine’s day.
In fact, our society would be hard-pressed to come up with a more pointless celebration. For those lucky enough to be single, the 14 of the month is either an excellent excuse to go out and drink in excess, or to marinate at home in one’s own loneliness.
Couples dislike the occasion even more. Nobody in a relationship has ever walked into a shop and been excited to see the Valentine’s cards on display. Why would you be, when you could save the hassle and celebrate more personally on your anniversary?
It is important, therefore, to salvage February 14’s reputation as a calendar date by exploring what unrelated events have occurred within its 24-hours in history.
In 1929, for example, Carrie Chapman Catt founded the ‘League of women voters’ at the convention of the ‘National American woman suffrage association’. This organisation aimed to encourage informed and active participation in government, founded at a time when women in the States were just beginning to make their voices heard in the realm of public affairs.
Not only is Feb. 14 important politically but also medically. Having left his laboratory for a bite to eat, Sir Alexander Fleming returns to find he has accidentally discovered what would later become one of the most widely used antibiotics in the world. Leaving a dish of staphylococcus bacteria uncovered, Sir Alexander was shocked to notice in his absence that mold which had fallen onto the culture, successfully killed off the bacteria. The discovery of penicillin marks February 14 as a momentous date in medical history.
Another event occurred in 1929. Dawn broke on the morning of February 14 punctuated by Tommy gun fire in the city of Chicago. Seven men lay dead on the North side of the city, their loyalty to the gang known as ‘Bugs Moran’s gang’ being their ultimate downfall as they fell at the hands of masked gunmen, reportedly associated with Al Capone’s rival gang.
Al Capone, rumoured to be in Florida at the time, was never apprehended for his involvement. However, to this day the St Valentine’s Day massacre remains one of the most blood-thirsty gang crimes to stain America’s history.
These are but a few events which have occurred, some others including Arizona being named as the 48th state of America in 1912, and Germany launching the largest battleship ever commissioned in 1939.
Whatever way you celebrate February 14, whether it be you suffering through a seven-course meal with your partner or sitting home alone with a pint of gin, hopefully you’ll remember this article and raise a glass to the date’s unsung significance.