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Humans have been celebrating variations on a “Valentine’s Day” since the fourth century, when ancient Romans celebrated their mid-February pagan fertility rite. Nowadays, the Valentine’s Day tradition persists in order to market shitty ensemble romantic comedies, prod our significant others into buying shitty chocolate, and make single folks feel shitty about themselves. Valentine’s Day has not been particularly good to us.

Thankfully, some enterprising groups have figured out how to capitalize on the obligatory Valentine’s Day celebration in ways that don’t involve a 5-buck Hallmark card (or Patrick Dempsey). Below, three Valentine’s-themed events that support women around the world:

Crafting Hope Trailer from Erin Yokel on Vimeo.

Event: A fund-raiser Crafting Hope, a documentary film by Greenbelt, Md. native Erin Yokel. According to Yokel, “The film Crafting Hope explores how income generating livelihood projects started by three resourceful women are breaking the cycle of poverty for communities in the Philippines, Uganda and Haiti.”

Valentine’s Twist: Instead of hitting up a corporate Valentinemonger like Hallmark, those wishing to celebrate the holiday can “shop for fair trade, handcrafted Valentine’s gifts” at Bethesday’s Ten Thousand Villages store. Romantic extra: the filmmakers will be on-hand to discuss the problem of women’s poverty worldwide.

Host: Crafting Hope and Bethesda’s Ten Thousand Villages store.

Details: The fund-raiser will be held on Fri., Feb. 12 from 6-10 p.m. at the Ten Thousand Villages store, 4959 Elm Street, Bethesda (Check the film’s Web site for weather updates).


Event: The Valentine’s Benefit Concert, a showcase including local bands The Sweater Set, FREE, and Nila, plus a silent auction.

Valentine’s Twist: Valentine-themed entertainment that won’t make you spew. Plus, proceeds from the event will go to Courtney’s House , “the first shelter in DC for sex-trafficked children and young women.”

Host: V-Day D.C., a local volunteer group devoted to ending violence against women.

Details: The show will be held on Friday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. at Bloombars, 3222 11th St. NW. Suggested donation is $10.


Event: “Reclaim Valentine’s Day,” an effort to remind “the women in our lives how they empower and inspire us.”

Valentine Twist: Instead of sending a Valentine to a significant other in a begrudging nod to societal expectation, send a platonic “V-Tine” to a female friend you really love.

Host: The Younger Women’s Task Force, a national organization of young female political activists.

Details: Sign up to send a “V-tine or $5. Proceeds benefit the Younger Women’s Task Force.

Photo via George Eastman House