Love is in the air. Well, a commercialized version of love anyway. One that will, in my case at least, result in spousal disappointment over a failure to buy gifts and book restaurants. It was better when I was single. Then, the only thing I had to contend with on Feb. 14 was the all-consuming dread of being alone.

But it needn’t be this way. When a couple of medieval poets first decided that St. Valentine’s Day would come to stand for all things lovey-dovey, they had loftier things in mind than chocolates and cards. As Jennifer Wollock, professor of literature at Texas A&M, explains, chivalric charmers Geoffrey Chaucer and Oton III de Granson reinvented the day to stand for romantic ideals: the freedom to choose one’s own true love or to reject the advances of unwanted suitors. It was a refreshingly romantic notion in an age when forced and loveless marriages were all too common.

This week we also liked articles about polyamory during the COVID-19 pandemic, people who don’t mind being single and why UMass Amherst is mobilizing a “vaccine corps.”

Matt Williams

Religion & Ethics Editor

Roses are red, thieving birds are blue. My neck is aching, are you uncomfortable too? Universitatbibliothek Heidelberg

For the birds? Hardly! Valentine’s Day was reimagined by chivalrous medieval poets for all to enjoy, respectfully

Jennifer Wollock, Texas A&M University

The view of Valentine's Day as a day for lovers can be traced back to two medieval poets who stood up for romance and the freedom to choose.

The pandemic blew up some carefully constructed ‘polycules.’ Bilyana Stoyanovska/EyeEm via Getty Images

Polyamorous relationships under severe strain during the pandemic

Riki Thompson, University of Washington

For single people, finding at least one partner has been hard enough. But for those used to juggling multiple relationships, the pandemic has forced them to rethink dating altogether.

Single and happy on Valentine’s Day/ anandaBGD via Getty Images Collections E+

Single on Valentine’s Day and happily so

Elizabeth Brake, Rice University

Not everyone wants romantic partnership and many singles find more happiness and autonomy in their solo life.