The Annual Argument Against Valentine's Day
Plus a few less common complaints
Valentine's Day is upon us again. Despite the promulgation of sappy romance movies and the sudden explosion of red and pink romantic decor in early January, many people happily go with the flow, welcoming Valentine's Day as an affirmation of true love.
And of course, many people don't. Just as predictable and inevitable as the sappy movies are the V-day haters. The Washington Post's Kevin Huffman makes the case against Valentine's Day as a holiday "long due for extinction." Huffman tracks the evolution of the beleaguered love-fest from Pope Gelasius' formalizing of St. Valentine's Day on Feb. 14th in 500 A.D (where he outlawed the lottery system as un-Christian) to a $14 billion industry in the United States, eventually concluding that it's time to do away with the holiday once and for all:
Despite its sorry record and utter failure as a romantic vehicle, getting rid of Valentine's Day is easier said than done. Much like the health-care system, Valentine's Day has a large corporate constituency and a small group of ardent supporters. Still, I believe we owe it to future generations to try.Plenty of journalists are taking the age-old route of railing against Valentine's Day as a crime against humanity.
- It's Miserable For Single People Huffman reflects on the sweet sorrow of being single on a day meant for love. "For most singles, Valentine's Day serves one main purpose: to remind you that in a world of 6.8 billion people, you still haven't found that special someone...Back in my high school days, students could order Valentine's carnations for their love interests. The flowers were delivered with great fanfare in homeroom to the usual suspects ("Who, me? What a wonderful surprise!"). And all day long, couples toted around their precious flowers, while the rest of us carried the scent of rejection."
- It's Hell For Men, Single Or Not USA Today's Raymond Siller points out that Valentine's Day can overwhelm the average man's masculine sensibilities with pressure to perform.
It used to be a simple chore to pick out a card that you'd address to your wife, girlfriend, or mother, lick a stamp and dump it in the nearest mailbox. Then neither rain nor snow, well maybe snow, would have kept the postman from the completion of his appointed rounds. For us, Mission Accomplished. Today, Hallmark and its competitors, sensing merchandising opportunities, have widened the field of love to include grandmothers, aunts, partners, employers, former employers, employees, former employees and the family dog.
It's a day when your favorite restaurant, smelling blood in the water, replaces its regular menu with a four-course feast that would bankrupt less affluent nations like Sierra Leone, Eritrea and the United States.
- It's Grossly Over-Commercialized observes The Gaurdian's Alexander Chancellor, lamenting the transformation of a Victorian tradition rooted in Chaucer to a seizure-inducing advertising romp promoting Bacchanalian indulgence:
Given that Valentine's Day is a creation of the sentimental Victorian era and based on the flimsiest of traditions, rooted in an obscure reference by Chaucer to the saint's day of an obscure early martyr who had no known interest in love or romance, it is surprising that, according to the US Greeting Card Association, about 1bn Valentine's cards are sent throughout the world each year, fewer only than at Christmas. This must be due to the huge exploitation of Valentine's commercial possibilities, especially in the US. Even a staid old newspaper such as the New York Times runs dozens of articles about what to do, what to buy, what to eat and how to behave on Valentine's Day. It also defers to the modern sexualisation of a festival that, in Victorian times, was seen as a celebration of innocent love, often involving children.
- It Doesn't Suit Complex Modern Relationships notes Tracy Quan at the Daily Beast, before offering advice to those "cheating on your spouse...sleeping with the boss...or seeing a hooker":
There's a dark side to Valentine's Day that many of us fear as the date draws near. You know who you are. You're the one who's juggling two boyfriends, sleeping with the boss, or cheating on your wife--with a man. Your anxieties about finding the perfect candlelit restaurant and romantic gift are compounded by the fact that the person (people?) you're finding these for don't exactly fit the Valentine's Day mold.