Valentine’s Day is one of the most controversial holidays of the year. Is it overly commercialised and silly, or a time for spreading the love? Two writers fight it out
Valentine’s Day is a time to drop the cynicism – by Sophie Ferreira
A day entirely devoted to showing those close to you that you care about them- what’s not to love?
With Valentine’s Day you know exactly what you’re going to get- namely lovers digging deep into their pockets to shower their special someone with affection; expect fully booked restaurants, soppy love notes, deliveries of overpriced red roses, balloons and chocolates, and let’s not forget boastful lovely-dovey facebook status updates galore…
‘OMG James surprised me with a private jet to Venice for dinner on a £10 billion yacht under the stars where he proposed with not one but FOUR engagement rings! He even got James Brown to sing for us, had all the food coated in liquid gold and our personal waiter was Bill Gates. <3 I’m the luckiest girl alive!’
Okay, so I see your point; some may find the whole thing slightly nauseating to say the least, especially being exposed to other people’s blossoming love lives if yours is somewhat flailing. But let’s not forget the positives here: and there are plenty of them.
If you are lucky enough to have someone to celebrate the occasion with then it serves as an opportunity to show them that you do appreciate them. Even the best intentions to do this all year round, like many cynics argue should be done instead of annually on Valentine’s Day, may be left by the wayside due to leading busy lives.
(This is a good opportunity to remind those people that nobody thinks twice about celebrating their own birth once a year, an event that really should be appreciated somewhat more than annually if you ask me).
Valentine’s Day can give people that nudge towards manifesting their feelings that may not be otherwise voiced, whether it is words written in a card, said over dinner or expressed behind closed doors. It can cater to every kind of relationship.
If on the other hand you are single on Valentine’s Day, there’s no reason to fret! This may well have its advantages in addition to the obvious benefit of not having to partake in the gift-buying extravaganza.
Clubs, TV and internet sites, to name a few, may well use the day for their own gain by making an effort to assist those who are alone to hook up but nevertheless there is opportunity to be seized; events aimed at those who are alone on Valentine’s Day make it easy for those looking for love (or whatever else) to find it.
On a day that puts emphasis on relationships people are often more interested in starting new ones or sparking up old ones- great for socialising!
For those not looking for love then Valentine’s Day can simply be a day to let your friends and family know you care. Or, if none of the above floats your boat then it needn’t be a day different to any other, with the exception that you might receive a card from a secret admirer.
Surely even the most anti-Valentine’s Day person couldn’t deny that exciting perk! (It is however significantly less exciting if, like me last year, the only card you receive is quite clearly in your mother’s handwriting- ‘Guess who?’)
Those who criticise Valentine’s Day are often quick to point out that it is too commercialised and serves no real purpose any more.
Unfortunately for old Saint Valentine the day does appear to have lost its meaning in terms of religion, and it is certainly true that people seldom give a second thought to why it is exists; I won’t try to persuade you otherwise.
But why do people believe that the holiday has necessarily become pointless simply because it isn’t celebrated for the same reasons as it once was?
The tradition of sending Valentine’s Day cards dates back centuries but the day has found a new meaning and for those who find joy in celebrating it today, the origins are trivial; the modern philosophy places value on spreading love and showing appreciation, through whatever medium you so desire. No buying into commercialism is necessary unless you want to!
Opinion is divided about Valentine’s Day’s credibility, arguably more than any other day celebrated in the calendar. Considering this day has the potential to cement bonds and make people feel warm and fuzzy inside, it’s a shame that many are now pessimistic about its benefit.
More people should make the most of the day as a reminder to cherish those you love; to meet new people; to make someone’s day by sending a card to a secret admiree- as fun as it is, facebook stalking isn’t spreading any love!
When I think of Valentine’s Day, I begin to think of what a pre-transformed Ebeneezer Scrooge would have said, “Bah Humbug”.
When asked why I hated Valentine’s I would reply with a loose version of Scrooge’s famous tirade: “What else can I be, when I live in such a world of fools as this? Happy Valentine’s Day! Out upon Valentine’s Day!”
What’s Valentine’s Day to you but a time for buying flowers and chocolate out of obligation; a time for finding yourself a hopeful mate, but not being any less alone; a time for reflecting upon your love life and having every heartbroken person sighing through a day presented as a reminder of their failings in amorous pursuits?
If I could work my will every idiot who goes about with ‘Valentine’s Day’ on his lips, would be stuffed with his own sugared hearts, and pricked with a thousand rose thorns. He should!”
That is what I would say to Valentine’s Day, because the Valentine’s Day we know today is a frivolous, empty holiday strung together to bilk poor, hopeful souls into thinking, A: “If I make an effort on Valentine’s Day this will demonstrate how much I love my partner!”, or B: “If I take so and so out for dinner tonight, this will show them how much I like them, and this could lead to something big!”
In B, there are some who use Valentine’s Day as a springboard into a relationship, and then there are some who use it only to springboard into the “benefits” of a relationship.
And we cannot forget about C, the lonely hearts who seem to think that Valentine’s Day was created just to magnify and remind them that they are single, unattached, and still looking for, as Queen puts it, “Somebody to Love”.
In short, Valentine’s Day is now an inauthentic day that cheapens the very emotion which it stands for: love.
There are at least three people that are known as Saint Valentine of February 14, and the customs of finding “love” is attributed to Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules: “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”
So as you can see, Valentine’s Day is, as it is said, for the birds.
Even if we take this sentiment to heart, what started as a seemingly genuine display of love through letters to loved ones, has now, in our modernity, turned into an orgy of pre-packaged chocolate, flowers, stuffed teddies, confection and cheap, gimmicky, overpriced Valentine’s Day cards.
All to be consumed for one day, and discarded the next.
This is the problem with Valentine’s Day; it has turned into such an obligation of displayed commercial affection, that its meaning has been lost.
How can an act of love be genuine when it is spurred solely by a mutated perception of what Valentine’s Day represents?
Forgive the commercialist slant, but this is mainly what the holiday provides.
My proposition is that this year, instead of mindlessly buying a card or planning something extravagant, reflect on why you love the person you are buying for, and instead of showing them with tangibles, tell them with words; pick substance over style.
Or better still, bypass the holiday if you dare, then do something else on February 15, or March 26, or June 14.
Pick a completely random day that has no expectations whatsoever!
After all, loving someone is not something you pack in a day because culture instructs us that we should; it is something that you do consistently day after day.
As I finish this piece, I hope that that tonight I sleep without the interruption of three ghosts who will espouse the magic and wonder of
Valentine’s Day. If they do, I’ll only have this for reply: “Valentine’s Day? Humbug!”