Valentine’s Day is here and Cupids all around the globe are readying their bows to pierce the hearts of unsuspecting lovers on February 14th. In a similar fashion, my Twitter timeline is primed and ready to unleash a barrage of tweets bemoaning the arrival of the holiday.
Whether lamenting about seasonal loneliness, criticising the commercialisation of romance, or rallying against the saccharine image of love that Valentines Day presents, it seems that now, more than ever, the modern world has evolved to beyond recognising Valentines Day as a holiday of any value.
Writing in the Huffington Post last February, Brittany Nims mourned that “romantics get one day a year to indulge their sentimental sides with candy hearts, long-stemmed roses, giant teddy bears and other cheesy gifts” while
“Realist Appreciation Day”, she regrets, is, unfortunately, a far off dream.
Valentines Day has become a commercial spectacle – one that can put pressure on people to spend exorbitant amounts of money to show their affection to their loved ones; a day pencilled in the diary of many practised pick up artists as the perfect time to end a relationship before they have to commit to buying a heart-shaped present.
Valentines Day, like love itself, can be moulded out of its original shape and intention into something unrecognisable and sinister – something that exists for profit and gain.
It doesn’t mean the nappy-clad, arrow-wielding baby should be thrown out with the bathwater.
I don’t intend to regale you with lines of text devotedly standing up for love and romance in all its forms, in order to convince you not to post your annual Single Awareness Day tweet.
I will, however, politely inquire about your willingness to celebrate birthdays and Christmas, if your issue is with the perceived intelligence or merit of people who indulge themselves in celebrating an over-commercialised holiday involving food and presents.
It seems too, that the Anti-Valentines Day movement has spent too long in the shadow of the day itself, and has inevitably, like its romantic sister, fallen victim to the beast of commercialisation. Nims critique of romantics and their holiday was followed by a listicle of the best Anti-Valentines themed gifts, an irony I fear, the realist author missed.
In 2012 author Tracy McMillan declared that “All of us, consciously or unconsciously, set out to have the best possible love life. Valentine’s Day simply shines a light on the degree to which that didn’t – or hasn’t yet – materialised.” and continued, “It’s like Tax Day for love – the day we come face-to-face with whatever romantic longings are still unmet. And who really wants to buy a balloon bouquet to celebrate that?”
Valentine’s Day is a holiday with its merits and its failings, but it certainly isn’t the AntiChrist of Feast Days it is made out to be.
And if you truly find today a day to suffer through instead of celebrate, console yourself in the knowledge that all heart-shaped chocolate will be half price on February 15th.