Phew—doesn’t it feel like we just had Christmas? It’s crazy how fast Santa is shoved out the back door to make room for the chocolate and gushing sentiments of Valentine’s Day. A day that stems from a violent history, pagan ritual, and martyrdom but evolved over the centuries to be romanticized and idealized with hearts, poetry, and love. It’s a day that means something different to everyone and if you didn’t celebrate this year, it’s all good because I know you’re not alone.
Nothing much about Valentine’s Day has changed since I was a kid. In elementary school a lot of red paper hearts were cut out and covered in glitter in the name of fun and creativity. The day was one of play and inclusivity.
As an adult though, the day is now so in your face with assertive advertising and marketing that push the ideals of what you have to do to prove your love, that it’s a complete turn off. The day has become a business feeding off the insecurities of the naive consumer and I’m not a big fan. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have a boyfriend in high school. I remember feeling so envious of those girls that got promise rings, flowers, or candy. But it was shallow too—I remember one girl in my grade eleven English class who talked nonstop about breaking up with her boyfriend but wouldn’t do it until after Valentines Day because she wanted to see what kind of gift he got her. I’m sure that behaviour is still happening today.
It’s funny how those memories stay with you, isn’t it? I’ve had a Valentine or two through the years but I never liked the expectation, not to mention the financial stress, especially for young people, that the day entailed. I know it’s a personal choice that people are making but why are we, in 2019, still stuck in the rituals of such a sexist and commercial tradition? Let’s face it, often it’s the woman receiving the gifts of flowers, diamonds, and chocolate, while the man also pays for a romantic dinner—if he remembered to make reservations that is—all in the name of St. Valentine. Ridiculous.
Why do we need a specific day for “love”? Shouldn’t it be declared and shown everyday? Valentine’s Day may be as popular as ever in a commercial sense but that could be shifting. The younger audience is more savvy and discriminating in where they spend their time and money.
There’s even been a shift in Japan where women, on February 14th, are obligated to give chocolate to male friends, family, and co-workers. It’s only been the last couple of years that women have been vocal in not wanting to “have to” buy chocolate for everyone. Society has listened and many work places have now abolished the tradition. On March 14th, it’s the men that give gifts to all the women in his life. Both days are huge and successful money making ventures for the retailer but times will change and evolve.
Get your phone and put a reminder in your calendar to do something special with your significant other in a couple of months—or weeks, or days—don’t wait until next Valentine’s. Surprise them with a poem, take them out to dinner, or give flowers—just because. Don’t let time get away on you— that wee Leprechaun is peeking around the corner now and before you know it the class of high school students will be graduating.