As early as 44 BCE, the Romans hosted a fertility celebration called Lupercalia, in which they sacrificed animals and procreated. Romantic? I’m not so sure. It wasn’t until the 14th century that Valentine’s Day as we know it really started to emerge. And no, it wasn’t named after just one saint; in fact, it was named after three!

These days, Hallmark tries to make certain that we have high expectations for Valentine’s Day. No matter how long you and your sweetheart have been together, if you don’t have a fancy dinner reservation for two complete with flowers, chocolates, and of course, a Hallmark card, you’re not doing the holiday right.

Why Choose Something Different This Year?

I’ve eschewed this portrayal of Valentine’s Day for years for several reasons:

Too Much Pressure

The most pressure gets put on the man, and to me that seems unfair. What’s more, not all relationships happen between men and women, not to mention the fact that there are plenty of women whose idea of a good time doesn’t include being wined and dined.

Too Cliched

The holidays is ridiculously cliche. Just like I can’t remember the last time I saw an original movie, I also can’t remember the last time someone suggested to me a totally unique Valentine’s Day idea.

Too Couple-Centric

Valentine’s Day, despite the popularity of Galentine’s Day, still exists exclusively to celebrate people who are coupled up and thus shames people who, for whatever reason, remain single.

Too Narrowly Focused 

Because putting all our relationship expectations on one day doesn’t respect all the work and joys we experience throughout the year. 

How to Celebrate in a New Way

This year, I urge you to take back Valentine’s Day. And no, I don’t mean back to the Lupercalia celebrations of ancient Roman times (unless you’re into all that stuff). What I mean is instead of doing the same-old, use the holiday to do something new with your partner.

Regardless of how long you’ve been together, you can always learn something new about each other. Plus, studies show that couples that do new things together have happier relationships.

This year, if you want to approach the holiday differently, here are some ideas:

  • Try a new restaurant that just opened up or even one that you’ve been wanting to go to for a while. Don’t feel pressured to go at dinner time, when it’s most likely to be crowded. Go for lunch or breakfast, and then spend the rest of the day doing things you both enjoy — or try something neither of you has done but that you’re both curious about.
  • Spend the whole day in bed — lounge, make each other breakfast and eat it in bed, and make love all day.
  • Go out dancing at your favorite club, or, if you’ve always wanted to try dancing Salsa or some other type of partner dance, find a lesson and an open dance in your area.
  • Have an old, romantic movie marathon (or just binge-watch a show you’ve been wanting to see).
  • Unplug and go for a hike, a walk in the woods, or take a day trip out of town. A change of scenery can be really good for relationships.
  • Extend the holiday and take a month for one of these 30-day relationship challenges!

No matter what you decide to do this holiday (and if that’s nothing, that’s fine, too), make it your own. That way, you both are much more likely to have fun and be waaaay less stressed about the whole thing. Plus, for couples that consider their relationships new, it turns the holiday into less of a factory for making stress and more into a regular date night in which each person can learn more about their new paramour.

What If You're Celebrating Solo?

Of course, if you’re single, you can still celebrate Valentine’s Day. In fact, it can be a wonderful way to make time for some self-care:

  • Go out for a delicious meal
  • Spend time outdoors
  • Book an appointment at your favorite spa
  • Take yourself out to a show or live theater
  • Make a list of the activities that brought you joy as a child and trying doing some of them again

So, moral of the story is: Valentine’s Day can be whatever you want it to be. No matter what happens, have a good time, and remember: it’s just another day. Yes, maybe over-hyped but a good opportunity to get to know your partner (or yourself) even better.