Monday, February 7, 2011

Valentine's Day Doesn't Suck



I'm going to ignore the beleaguered and muddled history of Valentine's Day for a few minutes. Because what I'm talking about is the present, the Valentine's Day of the 21st Century. There's a sort of subculture I've been noticing pop up in February of the last few years: The "Intelligent Single Girl Hates V-Day" subculture. (BTW: If you feel like this post is coming at you a little early, that's because it is. Mainly because we're having a V-day party at my house today and I'm posting on YAtopia today about First Kisses for our Love & Lit celebration - so I've got V-Day on the brain.)

If you're a smart single woman these days, it's almost expected that you'll hate (or feel sad on) February 14th - and most will rant for as long as you'll listen about how Valentine's Day is a sham. Ignoring how this really only makes you sound bitter (especially when you publicly gushed about your romantic date the year before), I'm going to have to disagree with you.

Let's get this out of the way first: I'm single this year and have been about as often as I haven't when February rolls around. My first year of college, my boyfriend broke up with me two days before Valentine's Day (Don't cry for me; he came crawling back in a spectacular way). In short, my V-days haven't always been marked by roses and chocolates.

But Valentine's Day doesn't suck.

And I'd appreciate if you would stop being so hard on it. What is the meaning - the true spirit - of the modern Valentine's Day? It's the only secular (yes, it has some roots in Christianity, but just as many in paganism and the modern celebration has nothing to do with religion) day we have to celebrate love. It's an entire day devoted to letting those you love know how you feel. Why are you so desperate to stomp on that?!

I'll concede that the relatively recent commercialism of the holiday serves only to cheapen it. Not only do companies like Hallmark and Russel Stover make millions off the holiday every year, companies like Zales and Kay jewelers try to convince men that they should spend thousands to make their girl happy on February 14th.

I still argue that this isn't what Valentine's Day is about. I remember when I was a little girl, being sooo excited about the box of candy I knew my daddy would bring home for me that day. The Valentine's Day gift I remember most fondly was a simple balloon. On my first Valentine's Day in college (mentioned above), my friend Mike invited me to watch his intramural softball game and then we went for pizza and, though I was a little heartbroken, I was thrilled to officially introduce Mike to my lovely roommate, who had been crushing on him from afar for a while.

I think a lot of the reason there's so much hate for this day of love is the expectations surrounding it. We're all expecting this perfect day with a romantic dinner and a dozen red roses. With the level of perfection that's expected, it's no wonder things get complicated. But it doesn't have to be complicated. It can be so simple.



Did you know that the tradition of Valentine's Day started with people simply writing hand-written, original love notes to each other? Why don't you take a few minutes this week and try your hand at writing something like the original "valentines" for a person you care about? Even if your writing is sloppy, your poetry doesn't rhyme and it's written on a torn-out sheet of notebook paper, it will mean more to the receiver than a pretty commercially-printed card-stock valentine would.

If you're in a relationship this Valentine's Day, take a step back and make sure that you're focusing on what's really important: the love (or the spark of something that may grow into love) you share with that person.

If you're not in a relationship: remember, this day isn't meant to torture you. It's not meant to draw attention to your single status; in fact, nobody but you will even notice. So try to celebrate the love surrounding you this year: the love you have for your family and friends, the love your friends have for each other and their loved ones.

And, please, don't piss all over your friends' happiness by talking about how much February 14th sucks. Because Valentine's Day doesn't suck. When you really think about it, it's kinda awesome.

2 comments:

  1. In my thirty years on this planet, I've only had one Valentine's Day when I was dating someone. That's never affected my appreciation for the day itself. To me, if you love someone, then every day is a day to tell them. The holiday isn't there to commemorate your relationship, but the idea of relationships themselves. The only people who can be cynical about that idea are the people who are cynical about love; and those are the hardest hearts of all to reach.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've never been a big 'Valentine's Day' person in the sense of romantic love... even though I'm married... but as a child we always gave candies to each other and exchanged silly cards. It was fun, and it was a way to bring the family closer together. And giving funny cards to friends was a lot of fun, too.

    My mom still buys Valentine's chocolates for us, and I love it. V-Day doesn't have to be about romantic love... and when is it ever a bad thing to show your appreciation for someone? Call your mother, send your siblings silly e-cards, whatever, just to say "hey, I'm thinking about you and I'm glad we have a relationship". If we didn't have a day set aside to do that, I honestly think some people would never get around to it.

    ReplyDelete