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Bruins celebrate Valentine’s Day through gift-giving, organization fundraising

(Emily Hu/Daily Bruin)

By Sara Green and Miu Kikuchi

Feb. 19, 2024 6:10 p.m.

This post was updated Feb. 19 at 10:47 p.m.

Students celebrated Valentine’s Day around campus Wednesday by giving gifts and spending time together.

This year, Valentine’s Day fell on a weekday, meaning students had to attend classes and take midterms. For some, however, the day also involved the opportunity to go on dates and sell Valentine’s Day-related items to fundraise for various organizations.

Maria Silva, a fourth-year economics exchange student from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, said she was excited to celebrate this holiday because, in her home country of Brazil, it isn’t recognized in the same way as it is in the United States.

“We … call it Partner Day in Brazil, but it’s way less intense,” Silva said. “I remember a month ago when I arrived, Target already had an entire section that was pink and dedicated to Valentine’s. Even the dining halls are already decorated for Valentine’s and everything. So, I think it’s way bigger than I expected.”

Her boyfriend, Nico Herrlett, who is also studying at Maastricht University, said he is visiting her in the U.S. for the first time.

The couple began dating seven months ago when Herrlett asked her to be his girlfriend on the taxi ride to a restaurant reservation in Bangkok, Silva said. She added that dating mostly as a long-distance couple has made their communication skills stronger.

Herrlett added that their relationship has spanned multiple continents, as they have navigated each other’s plans for studying abroad.

“It’s a bit insane – we met in the Netherlands, we started going out in South Korea, we became official in Thailand, and then he moved to Singapore, and now he’s here,” Silva said. “It was all over the place.”

Despite the novelty of the holiday, the couple was quick to celebrate together.

“I was very excited when he asked me to be his Valentine’s because that’s not a thing (a thing where I’m from),” Silva said.

Although Silva said the couple originally scheduled a Valentine’s Day trip to Universal Studios Hollywood, her two midterms that week forced them to postpone celebrations to Thursday.

The couple hopes to continue celebrating Valentine’s Day together outside of the U.S. as well, Herrlett said.

“Just being aware that Valentine’s Day is a thing is going to be our tradition,” he said. “We would just ignore it in Europe, but now maybe we’ll sort of acknowledge it and go on a date.”

While exciting memories are being made for one Bruin couple by celebrating Valentine’s Day together, another celebrates it apart.

Diana Saucedo, a fourth-year environmental science student, said as someone who is spending Valentine’s Day away from her partner, celebrations tend to be less about the holiday and more about simply spending time together when they get the chance to meet up.

“I love Valentine’s as a spirit,” Saucedo said. “I feel like I don’t actually celebrate it, especially because I live away from my partner, but I love Valentine’s. I love the theme of it.”

Though love between partners is in the air, Valentine’s Day warmth can be felt by anyone.

Michelle Caballero, a member of an organization called The Commencement Group that partners with schools to create scholarships, said she was selling Valentine’s Day goods on Bruin Plaza. She added that she likes the holiday because it’s an expression of love and a chance to give and receive gifts.

“It’s a way that we just share our feelings towards everyone – just expressing our love,” she said. “I think that’s pretty cool.”

Jazmin Chavez, a fourth-year biology student, said Valentine’s Day also allowed her to reach more customers for her business, through which she sells handmade flowers crafted out of ribbon on Bruin Walk. She added that she particularly appreciates the inclusive nature of Valentine’s Day.

“It’s just a fun little holiday,” Chavez said. It’s not associated with any religion or culture, so I feel like anyone can celebrate it.”

She said she is looking to donate the proceeds from her business to organizations that address domestic violence against women and also to support people experiencing homelessness, she said.

Saucedo, who sells her crocheted goods on Bruin Walk, said she noticed a shift in her customer base on the holiday, with more men buying things from her. She added that she appreciates the extra money from her business, as she uses the profits to help pay for college.

Saucedo added that Valentine’s Day was important to her because it allows people to share their feelings.

“Valentine’s is important to me because I think the world is a better place with love,” she said. “It just brings you so much joy experiencing love and sharing that love with others. I think it’s such a nice holiday.”

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Sara Green
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