Valentines Day often evokes thoughts of flowers, hearts and candy typically given from a man to his sweetheart as a token of his affections. After all, what women does not want to receive chocolate, jewelry and roses from her man? It is customary for children in America to decorate old shoe boxes with red or pink hearts as a mailbox of sorts to later exchange Valentine cards with their classmates and enjoy a little party at their schools. Originating back to Roman times, Valentine's Day was referred to as Lupercalia and celebrated on February 15th which was a day for men and women to eat, drink and have sex. Believing that their fertility increased on this one day of the year, men would tear off their clothing and find some young maidens to entice into their beds. As Christianity became more widely adopted, morality through religion brought an end to the annual festival. According to the legend of St. Valentine, in the third century A.D. Emperor Claudius II restricted men from getting married as his intentions were focused on increasing his power through military forces. The thought was that married men would be less dedicated soldiers if they had to divide their time with a wife. Disregarding the law, St. Valentine secretly performed marriages for those interested lovers, and he was executed for his crime on February 14th in A.D. 270. Whether or not St. Valentine was a real person or simply a figure created by the church to boost popular support for Christianity, today Valentine's Day is recognized mainly as a day for love.
While many people are busy declaring their love for another, reading love letters or enjoying the sweetness of chocolate candy, V-Day will be a celebration of another sort all across the world. February 14, 2013 marks the fifteen year anniversary of a global movement to end violence against women and girls across the world. Known as V-Day, this activist movement was founded by Eve Ensler, who is the Tony award winning Playright of The Vagina Monologues. Already a proponent of ending violence against women and girls, it was during her days as a performer ijn The Vagina Monologues when Ensler was moved to start V-Day envisioning her organization on the global scale in an effort to eradicate violence across the world. Since creating V-Day in 1998, Ensler has been working towards her dream of helping all women and girls to live in a world where they are encouraged to live free and happy rather than the reality many face each day just to make it to the next without dying.
Believing that violence can end through a peaceful movement, V-Day is held on Valentine's Day with the letter V standing for victory, valentine and vagina. In many countries across the world, women are targeted and abused simply because they were born female. While acts like female genital mutilation and sex slavery are usually found in countries outside of the United States and the Europe, acts such as rape, incest and assault happen each and every day to women all over the world. Tomorrow marks V-Day's largest scale effort to educate and empower women and girls to work to end violence through the One Billion Rising campaign.Based on the statistic that over the course of a lifetime at least one in every three women will be the victim of violence, the result is that about one billion women across the globe will know violence. The phrase one billion rising refers to the number of women and the men who love them who V-Day hope will stand up on Valentine's Day 2013 to walk out, rise, dance and demand a peaceful end to violence.
Tomorrow in Pennsylvania alone, there are 37 V-Day events that are planned across the state at colleges and universities, community centers and churches. While a majority of the events will be held in larger cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, there are V-Day events scattered throughout Central Pennsylvania. V-Day's One Billion Rising outreach event will be held at one location in Harrisburg at the LGBT on Center on Central PA from 7-9pm where attendees will be vocal in saying no more violence against women and girls in Harrisburg. Advocacy organizations such as the National Latin @ Network for Healthy Families & Communities, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the National Sexual Violence Center on Domestic Violence, the Harrisburg Area NOW, the PA Coalition Against Rape, and the PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence will speak out to the community encouraging them to stand up, dance and rise up against violence. Other events in the Central PA area will take place throughout the day and the One Billion Rising website lists V-Day events all over the world. In the United States, one simply has to enter their state or zip code to find events. In addition to the V-Day event in Harrisburg tomorrow night, there is ones to be held in Lancaster at HACC Campus and at Shippensburg University's Women's Center both at 12noon. Penn State will rise against violence towards women and girls at the student union building at 12:40pm. Gettysburg College will hold their V-Day event at 4:30pm at The Junction of the College Union Building. Lancaster will have a second event at 6:00pm at the Friends Meeting House. Bloomsburg YMCA will be hosting a one-hour Zumbathon beginning at 6:30pm with the event free and open to the public.
Tomorrow is a chance to be part of a world-wide peaceful movement to end violence against women and children. While many people will still participate in traditional Valentine's Day festivities such as exchanging cards and eating chocolate, V-Day hopes that at least one billion will also participate in this world-wide event to walk out, dance, rise up and demand that violence ends. Pennsylvanian women and the men who love them are encouraged to also stand up and support the end of violence. It is one more way a man can show the special woman in his life that he loves her and also a way that mothers can show their love for their daughters.