Ernst: Chocolates, flowers, hypocrisy?

Why no fuss over Valentine's Day? Why no nitpicking for an innocuous label or parents demanding little or no recognition of the day in public schools?

I am basically stripped of my right to celebrate Christmas and I've had enough human resource pow-wows at my retail job to know that bidding someone a "Merry Christmas" is not seen as a simple gesture of well-wishing for the season; it's insensitive.

So why then is the equally commercial feast of the martyred Catholic Saint Valentine spared burning at the secular stake? I hail from a city where a watered-down winter scene bulletin board at a public elementary school around Christmas time drew mass outrage.

If one star in the sky was larger than the others, it represented the Star of David, but year after year Valentine's Day is quietly passed over.

Has this day become so far removed from its original Christian connotation that all Americans, regardless of race or religion, feel obligated to partake in everything from little paper cards to diamonds? Or is it simply that Valentine's Day is a day dedicated to showing people around us that we love and care for them?

I suppose that's why I'm confused - because last time I checked, when stripped of its bells and whistles, that's what Christmas was all about as well.

In a world that demands political correctness from people who are simply trying to keep from becoming jaded, I beg only for a little consistency. I'm not saying that people who don't celebrate Christmas should be barred from celebrating Valentine's Day, or Saint Patrick's Day for that matter. Saint Patrick's Day, another prime example of a Catholic-derived holiday, seems to be celebrated by people from all walks of life. If someone of another cultural, social or religious persuasion wants to share in these holidays and embrace them for their values beyond their original non-secular context without fuss, then more power to them!

My issue is with those few individuals who have demanded the complete removal of religion in society, yet attack only the most prevalent religious holiday. Why stop there? By picking their battles, these people show that their cause is about as fortified as a house of cards. If the scrutiny express is rolling, it might as well barrel over every holiday that was ever derived from religious contexts.

Yet despite my general bitterness, the undisturbed passing of Valentine's Day (and Saint Patrick's Day of course) every year is a little ray of hope. It's a simple reminder that most people can look beyond where a holiday came from and instead celebrate what it stands for.

I don't expect the reinstatement of Christmas to the mainstream capacity it once held. But as long as people are content to celebrate Valentine's Day - a day of love and caring for one another - as it is, then I suppose we'll be alright.

Kelly Ernst is a senior communication major, who could totally get a Valentine if she wanted one.