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Sunday, April 21, 2024
The Observer

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An unconventional Notre Dame Valentine's Day

The sun is shining. The cardinals are chirping. There is an above-average amount of public displays of affection on the quads. Either love is in the air or these are signs of an early spring.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. Yet, the celebration of love was tempered with the repentance of Ash Wednesday. People donned pink sweaters and wore ashes on their foreheads. This was not your average holiday. 

Many celebrating Valentine's Day were enjoying the holiday in an unconventional manner. Students expanded the celebration of love to include friends and family members, not just romantic partners. 

One such student considers Valentine's Day her favorite holiday. ”I treat Valentine's Day as Galentine's Day,” freshman Genevieve Cicchiello said. ”I just give all my Valentine's love to my other relationships.”

Irish Gardens flowers

On the morning of Valentine's Day, music filled the basement of LaFortune Student Center. Irish Gardens employees were blasting pop music to keep up some positive vibes amid the stress of their busiest day of the year. The Notre Dame student-run flower store was in a state of controlled chaos between the music, the sound of printing receipts, ringing telephones and customers coming to pick up orders. It was 10:45 a.m. — and they weren't even open for walk-in orders yet.

”We anticipate a huge walk-in rush today,” general manager and senior Julia Kim said. Irish Gardens already had over 520 online and walk-in orders from the Valentine's Day rush, which started Feb. 3 and lasted up until Feb. 12.

Irish Gardens' self-proclaimed market on campus is members of the tri-campus who want to order a nice bouquet and not break the bank in the process. Flowers range from $3.00 to $5.00 a stem, but pre-arranged vases can sometimes get as expensive as $100. The florists' most popular bouquet, the titular ”You're My Valentine,” is on the higher end of the price range.

Another popular option, the ”Designer's Choice” bouquet, is arranged by the Irish Gardens' in-house florist. They implemented this option this year because it allows the florists to have some creativity and address client needs, manager and senior Chloe Behringer said. 

”We know Valentine's Day is our busiest time of year, so we planned for this months in advance,” Kim said. ”We ordered our flowers back in October 2023.”

Across campus, you could see the results of Kim's work. Flowers and balloons were everywhere — especially in South Dining Hall. Sophomore Megan Klein had a bouquet of purple flowers beside her during lunch. ”These are for my roommate,” she said as she lifted them with a smile. 

Sonnetfest poetry

From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., the Shakespeare at Notre Dame program brought back a Notre Dame Valentine's Day tradition. Anybody from the South Bend community could come to read one of Shakespeare's 154 sonnets to celebrate love. 

In 2010, former Notre Dame English doctoral student Maryam Zomorodian suggested the Shakespeare program celebrate Valentine’s Day with a community-wide reading of sonnets. The event reoccurred annually on Valentine’s Day for six years in O’Shaughnessy Hall’s Great Hall. 

After a brief hiatus, the event was brought back for its seventh year — this time, on stage in Duncan Student Center’s Hagerty Family Cafe. 

“We’re using this new venue to see what happens with student engagement,” Scott Jackson, executive artistic director of the Shakespeare at Notre Dame program said. “The whole idea behind this event is to change how students encounter Shakespeare. Perhaps they’ll even sign up to read a sonnet.” 

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Jennifer Birkett reads the first sonnet of Sonnetfest.

Jennifer Birkett, a postdoctoral fellow with Shakespeare at Notre Dame, read the first two sonnets. South Bend mayor James Mueller and provost John McGreevy also read at the event. 

Later in the day, Sonnetfest returned to the stage with Devon Glover — who goes by ”The Sonnet Man” onstage. Glover has a repertoire of about 50 sonnets that he puts into conversation with hip-hop. Glover's ”Shakespeare Sonnets through Hip-Hop” has landed him on many news broadcasts and led him to perform at Shakespeare festivals worldwide.

”We're really looking forward to Devon,” Jackson said. ”We hope that we'll have a good turnout for sure.”

Mariachi ND serenades

Notre Dame's very own mariachi band was open for business this Valentine's Day. According to the band's Facebook page, Mariachi ND has been ”supplying the campus with traditional Mexican music since 1995.” 

With packages ranging from $12 to $32, the mariachi band was available to ”spread love through serenades” from Feb. 10-11 and Feb. 14. The band has several songs to choose from including ”Cielito Lindo,” ”Cariño,” ”Hermosa Cariño,” ”Si Nos Dejan” and ”El Milagro de Tus Ojos.”

Even though they are typically booked as a surprise for a special someone, the band does have its limits. On its booking form, Mariachi ND says they will not play at ”religious services, sporting events, quiet study spaces or the Grotto” and needs permission to play in private areas like dorms and during classes. 

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MariachiND Serenades surprises professor Troy Vogel with a song after class.

This Valentine's Day, Mariachi ND was hired to play for a love of a different kind — the love of a professor. 

Troy Vogel, professor and director of undergraduate studies for chemical engineering, was serenaded after teaching his senior chemical process design class. Chemical engineering seniors John Sacris and Mary Browne decided to surprise Vogel for Valentine's Day. 

“I love Dr. Vogel. He’s great,” Sacris said. “It’s a fun class because all the senior chemical engineers are really close. We thought it'd be a nice experience for everyone.”

News of the surprise had been spread through word-of-mouth, contributing to a large amount of students sticking around after class, quietly giggling in anticipation for the mariachi band's arrival. The serenade was not only for Vogel, but a show of love for Sacris's senior class. 

A student from the class, senior Madison Schmidt, reflected on the meaning of the holiday. It's a great way to celebrate any form of love in your life, she said. ”It's only as big of a deal as you make it,” Schmidt said. ”It can be a small thing...or you can hire a mariachi band.”

“Whoever did this,” Vogel waved his finger. “I will try to find a way to give you extra credit.”