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Brave, meek or hater?

How every type of person is celebrating Valentine’s Day
in the midst of a pandemic

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, signs of love are seen in various places across the city. (Cole Buhler)

By Brooklyn Cooper

AS OF FEB. 8, ALBERTANS were once again allowed to dine in at restaurants and bars. However no more than six people are allowed at a table, and people must dine only with others from the same household. Those who live alone are allowed to dine with just two close contacts.

The brave

Since Valentine’s Day is approaching, this new stage may allow some brave lovers to dine at restaurants and bars. And, speaking of bravery, restaurant employees are accommodating people choosing to celebrate Valentine’s Day by dining out.

Mia Holowaychuk has been in the hospitality industry for the past six years and works as a server at Joey Bell Tower. She says she’s happy to be back at work, and that customers seem excited to be able to eat out again, as well.

“Although the pandemic can be worrisome, I feel very safe and taken care of when I’m at work.”

On the other hand, Craft Beer Market server/bartender, Chelsea Baker, says she thinks most people are still nervous about coming in, especially with the news of another, highly infectious strain of COVID-19 in the province.

“I wasn’t expecting to come back so soon, since our case numbers hadn’t dropped that dramatically,” she says. “But it’s nice to see some old and new faces.”

Fellow Craft Beer server Stephen Dyck agrees.

“We’re facing a pretty deadly disease, and as selfishly happy as I am to be out of lockdown and back to work, I think it shines a pretty sad mirror on our society that restaurants are currently considered an essential service.”

Craft also offers what they call a Virtual Brewmaster Dinner for guests nervous about eating out, Baker adds.

“Before COVID-19, we would collaborate with a brewery to host five-course Brewmaster Dinners, with menus that our chefs would create to pair with five beers from the brewery. Tickets would usually sell for $60 and now we’re doing that to take home.”

Traditional ways of celebrating Valentine’s Day can still be special during these unprecedented times, as long as health and safety are in mind.

The meek

If you’re not going out for Valentine’s Day, you’re probably staying in. (By the way, this doesn’t actually make you a coward.)

Before the pandemic, people used to plan as many romantic activities as possible for Valentine’s Day but, now, Zoom and FaceTime have brought people together by keeping them apart. Not everyone lives with their loved ones, and many couples and friends are turning to virtual dates – forcing people to get creative.

Sydney Wigmore, a MacEwan student who lives alone, plans to FaceTime a friend for Valentine’s Day. She says her friend bought cookie-decorating kits for each of them and will drop one at Wigmore’s apartment a few days prior so they can bake cookies together on Feb. 14.

“We can bake and decorate the cookies at the same time, while we have a couple drinks and talk to each other as though we’re actually together. It’s been really difficult not getting to hang out with people in person, but I also love any excuse to show love to my loved ones.”

Despite limitations on Valentine’s Day plans, there are still perks to celebrating virtually or socially distanced.

The hater

Throw out the heart-shaped sugar cookies and pop the pink balloons, Valentine’s Day is overrated – or at least some people think so. Although Valentine’s Day has history behind it, some people think it has become more about consumerism than love; therefore, some are choosing not to celebrate altogether. University of Alberta student Kenzie Mark says there’s too much pressure to have this grand display of love when it’s just another day.

“Since I’ve been dating, the small things have mattered to me so much more than grand gestures that seem overboard and forced because of societal expectations. Someone could get a huge display for Valentine’s Day that they post on their social media, but the relationship could have problems you don’t see and then all of a sudden, you’re comparing your relationship to another that you know nothing about.”

Mark says she has always felt as though she gives love in different ways from what Valentine’s Day emphasizes.

“Celebrating love is great, but I don’t like the expectation and pressure of needing a date or needing to do something with the girls if you’re single.”

Above all, love

Not every holiday needs to be celebrated, and sometimes the little things you do for your loved ones speak loudly enough.

Whether you fall under the category of brave, meek or hater, Valentine’s Day means something different to everyone. But Valentine’s Day aside, love, especially after the year we’ve been through, should be the focus every day.

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