I have no problem with love. I have no problem with people expressing love. I have no problem giving and receiving love. What I have a problem with is the commercialization of love and romance. Thus I have a problem with Valentine’s Day. I think it is the dumbest, stupidest, most trivial fake holiday of all. We are supposed to teach love and show love based on the moniker of a third century Roman Saint? I don’t think so.
I know I am going to sound like a bitter old spinster for saying what I am about to say. But I am going to say it anyway. I am far from bitter and I’m not an old spinster (yet). Valentine’s Day is the most over-hyped day of the year right up there with Halloween and New Year’s Eve. It is a day that is so fiercely driven by commercialism that it literally drives people insane. The amount of money and time spent on this fake holiday makes me physically ill. Did you know that about 144 million cards were given on Valentine’s Day in the U.S. alone in 2018 and that U.S. citizens spent $19.6 Billion dollars on Valentine’s gifts?
If you are in a relationship you are expected to drown your lover in expensive presents; clothes, flowers, jewelry and drink. Then there’s the pressure associated with trying to find that perfect gift. A gift to perfectly wrap up all of what you should have been saying and showing them, the other three hundred and sixty-four days of the year. Then there’s the pressure of getting engaged, even if you are not ready, just because it is Valentine’s day and because it’s one of the most popular days to get engaged. I won’t even get into the pressure around the ring size.
What if you are single? If you are single you are looked upon as some kind of pariah. You have the pressure of finding a lover or a date in time for February 14th for fear of having your family and friends ask you that dreaded question, “what are you doing for Valentine’s day? Do you have plans?”
Then if you don’t have said plans and you prefer to spend that evening wrapped up in a blanket on the couch drinking wine and watching Netflix you are greeted with such a profound look of pity and disdain that you can barely make eye contact.
I cannot remember the last time I “celebrated” Valentine’s Day. I’m sure I was still in my teens, maybe high school age; still innocent, naïve and not cynical and suspicious of everyone and everything. The single biggest joy associated with Valentine’s day back then was being on the receiving end of a candygram and a fake red rose from your ‘significant other.’ I am not going to lie, seeing your classmates look at you with some measure of envy back then was fun. Once you entered college or university all that façade faded because all the expectations of being an adult on Valentine’s Day started to affect you.
Even as a broke university student I could not escape the pressures of societal expectations. I remember once using my last twenty bucks to buy a boyfriend a box of chocolates, a card and a movie pass because I felt bad if I didn’t do it. I don’t recall if I received a gift in return. I’m not even sure how I feel anymore about school giving out Valentine’s in class. I’m all for kids showing kindness and respect to one another and encouraging friendships but what message are we sending? I hope it’s not that on the other days it doesn’t matter. And what if a kid is left out? If that still happened it stings existentially.
Today I am like no way. Never again. Valentine’s Day will no longer receive my attention nor time.
In my opinion we only go this way once and if you love the people around you, tell them and show them that love every single day, not just when it’s designated on a calendar.