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Students celebrate modern love with open mics, erotica and picnics

Texture courtesy of Unsplash

Valentine's Day has been celebrated for centuries, and its indefinite origin has blossomed into a day dedicated to romance, relationships and friendships.

Some use the day to celebrate their partners, offering gifts like chocolate, while others celebrate general camaraderie. Despite the variety of celebrations to choose from, some people still disown it all together.

Junior Tara Hinton laughed when asked how she plans on celebrating Valentine’s Day. Hinton, along with Julia Elliot, was spending the day before Valentine's Day picnicking in Polk Place.

“This is how I’m celebrating it!” she said.

Hinton said she has no specific traditions on Valentine's Day, but spending quality time together is important. 

Elliot, however, had a different view.

“I think it’s kind of dumb,” she said. “It’s very much a capitalistic endeavor.” 

Elliot said she doesn't see the point in buying things on a specific day for the person you are with romantically. She said that she thinks people should have the feelings associated with Valentine’s Day everyday. 

She said that she likely wouldn't even offer a 'Happy Valentine’s Day.'

Nonetheless, come February, Chapel Hill was found celebrating the season of love in a variety of ways; from the University Place Harris Teeter dedicating an aisle to heart-shaped chocolate boxes, to the pink and red streamers decorating the suite hallways of Hinton James Residence Hall. 

A quick ride up the escalator of Lenoir Dining Hall will expose a red wrapped counter of stuffed animals and heart shaped trinkets, implying that even the Carolina Dining Services want to spread the love. 

Just beyond campus, a yearly Valentine’s tradition took place at Franklin Street’s Varsity Theatre. LAB!, UNC's oldest student theatre group hosted a night of live readings of erotica and fan fiction to celebrate the day of love. Surrounded by heart-shaped balloons, students read works that they had found or wrote themselves for a night that organizer and UNC senior Julia Finke described as silly and fun.

Finke said that sex, like that represented in erotica, is a big part of Valentine's Day and the reading provides a fun way to enjoy the holiday, even if you don't have a valentine.

“I haven't really had to worry about not having one because I knew that I would have plans with live readings because it was a fun, guaranteed night that you're going to have with a bunch of your friends,” Finke said.

On Friday, another annual tradition took place in a similar fashion. Once a year around Feb. 14, The Meantime Coffee Co. — UNC’s only student-run, non-profit coffee shop —hosts an open mic event in the Campus Y building. While not created specifically for Valentine’s Day, the event has encapsulated the theme of love over the years. 

Junior Rose Houck, the marketing director at Meantime, described the event as a way to spread love around campus during the Valentine's Day season. From original songs to poetry segments, students came together to showcase unique talents and interests in front of a large hanging heart decoration

“People were singing songs about love and heartbreak, and poems that exemplified the diversity and complicated nature that modern love is,” Houck said. “That was really beautiful to be a part of and witness.”

@dthlifestyle |

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