What is wrong with Valentine’s Day

Roses in the shape of a heart. Just because.

Bet that got your attention, huh?

I know, I know.  I can hear you all now: “There’s nothing WRONG with the most romantic day of the year, Paula!  You’re a romance writer – isn’t that, like, sacrilegious or something?”

So let me quantify that by saying I have nothing against Valentine’s Day, rather, what retailers have done to it and the massive guilt trip people take because of it.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

First, Valentine’s Day was set up by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD to commemorate Christian martyrs named Valentine.  Apparently, there is no correlation between it and the modern interpretation, which was widely thought to be introduced by Chaucer.  Fascinating stuff, history.  Here’s some more on Saint Valentine and Valentine’s Day.

So, back to the commercial horrors.  Roses are the most expensive leading up to February 14th.  I have seen the prices triple – no joke.  This, for a flower you can give at any other time of the year, when your love is least expecting it and will probably appreciate it more.

Then we’re bombarded on TV, magazines and internet with aggressive advertising, where you’re guilted into buying your love overpriced flowers, chocolates or jewelry.  Or soft plush toys which, quite frankly, have no place in a grown woman’s bedroom (unless you’re a collector, in which case, put that shit in a display case).  I despise the way guilt is used to encourage a display of  love.

And, if you’re the giver, then the implication is that you’re a terrible, terrible person if you don’t give something.

Andrew Lincoln expressing his love. Not on Valentine's Day. He rocks.

No, I am not cynical, nor do I hate romance (I do write it, after all).  Nothing warms my heart more than two people in love (well, actually a few things warm my heart more… small fluffy kittens, carrot cake and finding money in my jeans pocket.  But that’s not what my post is about.)  I think love is pretty darn awesome and two people in love, in that special little bubble of happy-joy bliss, always brings a smile to my face.

And you know what’s more awesome?  Not having to be told that you HAVE to give your partner something special on one day of the year.  I don’t know about you, but I deliberately do the opposite if I’m being told what to do.  “Paula, clean up your room.”  “Paula, wash the car.”  “Paula, wear something a little less revealing.”  “Paula, you should buy (insert item) because we in Advertising Land told you to.”  See, sounds like my mother, right?  If it had an English accent and short dark hair, and cleaned like the Queen was coming to visit, it’d DEFINITELY be her.

Here’s my thing.  I believe retailers and advertisers have hijacked all the cool holidays, like Easter and Christmas, and people spend way too much, getting a little crazy and losing the real message of the day, which is pretty much about love, faith and sharing and family celebration (only for Easter/Christmas mind you – if family got in on the act with Valentine’s,  THAT would be a little weird.  Not to mention possibly illegal).

So, you love someone.  They love you.  You should feel free to express that love however way you want, at whatever time of the year you want.  You should get (or give) flowers “just because.”  You should buy your love a special gift, or have a romantic dinner or  have wild, crazy sex in a hotel bed strewn with rose petals because you damn-well feel like it, because you love them.  Because you love them all year ’round and not just for one day.  And especially NOT because some advertising people tell you to.  I tell you, I’d be much happier with a bunch of flowers, knowing the giver didn’t have to sell their kidney to do it.

Or maybe that’s just me…

By Paula Posted in rant

4 comments on “What is wrong with Valentine’s Day

  1. Interesting that martyrdom gave way to a romantic interpretation of love. Since we’re dealing with interpretation, I always thought Valentine’s Days ought to be the day of WORLD LOVE, another sort of Christmas-ish holiday espousing good will towards all man and womankind. Tell everyone you care for that you love them. Show kindness to the goofy-looking kid in your class by giving her/him a Valentine. Share the box of chocolates (yes, I know that’s hard for some people) or jar of peanut butter, or cup of coffee with your neighbour. In essence, make a commercial day about the many faces of love.
    Isn’t that what Love Actually did?

  2. yep, Coleen. I’ve heard guys say “yeah, I should buy her some flowers” with all the enthusiasm of a dentist’s appointment. (and woo hoo on the finding of money, wherever it hides!)

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