I think we should get rid of Valentine’s Day. I know, I know, all the diehard romantics will hate this idea, but here’s what I think. There is no other day that is so wrought with potential for missteps than Valentine’s Day and I think we should just eliminate it. It’s not a nice holiday.
Where did Valentine’s day come from?
So to start, no one knows how Valentine’s Day actually originated. There are two martyred St. Valentines who may or may not be the origin of the St. Valentine title. One was a priest in the third century in Rome who performed marriages in secret after marriage was outlawed by Emporer Claudius II. He was then put to death. Another St. Valentine helped Christians escape harsh roman prisons; legend indicates he may have sent the first valentine greeting himself after he fell in love with a girl who visited him while he was in jail. He was later put to death. Some believe St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated to comemorate one of the above Valentine’s deaths or births. Ahhh, what warm and sweet thoughts.
Others think the church put St. Valentine’s Day in the middle of February to christianize a pagan celebration of the time, Lupercalia. This festival included the sacrifice of a goat, whose hide was cut in strips, dipped in goat blood and used to slap women. Women WANTED to be slapped because they believed it made them more fertile (can you envision the scene with women lining the streets with their butts out waiting to be slapped?). Later in the festival day, all young women put their names in a big urn and the bachelors would choose a name and become paired for a year with that woman. Eventually, this festival was deemed unchristian and was replaced with a christian February 14 St. Valentine’s Day which didn’t become a romantic holiday until years later.
What is the purpose of St. Valentine’s Day now?
Currently, Valentine’s day is celebrated in the United States, as well as Canada, Mexico, France, Australia and the United Kingdom. It is supposed to be a day of romance; a day for those in love to purchase or make a card for their loved one. Flowers, chocolates, or other gifts can also be presented. Stores hold special sales on jewelry, and television and newspaper ads abound extolling the need to buy your loved one an expensive diamond ring, a car, or any number of other costly goods in order to ensure she knows how you feel. Restaurants provide special (usually more expensive) Valentine’s Day menus for the romantic dinners that should occur. The message seems to be that love is only proven if gifts are given and received on Valentine’s Day.
And how well does Valentine’s Day work?
I think in general, this holiday doesn’t work at all.
Why do I say the holiday doesn’t work? It is supposed to be a day where people in love acknowledge their love. It does sound like a wonderful and sweet celebration on the surface.
It doesn’t work because of unmet hopes and expectations.
In most cases, if men want anything on Valentine’s Day, they would like their woman to wear red underwear, or to sport a sexy teddy, or perhaps to forget the “holiday” in its entirety. That would be gift enough for them. But what do most women do? They buy their guy a gift and a card. And what does that do for the guy? It doesn’t make them happy. It makes them feel as though they need to ensure they get an even better gift for their lady. So a guy’s hope is that the holiday either didn’t exist or that his woman would see the silliness in the day and would declare it a non-event. The best scenario for any man would be for his woman to greet him at the door wearing nothing but a nurse or maid uniform holding his favorite drink and a big smile. Obviously, most men’s hopes and expectations are typically NOT met on this holiday.
And then, the women. In most cases, women have been made to believe if their guy doesn’t desire with his entire being to take them to a wonderful restaurant, or propose marriage, or buy them a gorgeous piece of jewelry, or write words of romance on a corny card on this one particular day, then he couldn’t possibly love them enough. So most women have hopes and expectations that on this one particular day, their guy will show up on their door with a beautiful bouquet of flowers which will be followed by a wonderful romantic dinner with candlelight and tuxedoed waiters in the middle of which, the man will get down on one knee and with romantic words and love in his eyes, will propose marriage.
Come on, is this even somewhat realistic?
Valentines Day equals Stress Day
Valentine’s Day is the most stressful holiday ever.
What if you are a guy and you are dating a woman? What if you (gasp) forget about Valentine’s day and don’t make special plans on the 14th? Will she ever date you again? Will she be furious and make plans with another guy? Will your dating life ever recover? Will you be trying to make it up to her until you just give up and move on? And what if you buy a gift but it’s something small and she bought you something big? Ghaaa! Then what? Tell her that her “real” gift didn’t arrive yet and then run out and buy something else? How is this pressure helpful to this couple!?
What if you are a girl and are dating a guy and he doesn’t make plans with you? Does that mean he’s not really serious about you? Should you go out with someone else? Should you be mad at him? Does it mean something? Did he just forget it was February? Should you break up with him? Will he call you that night? Will he buy you something? And what if you just get an email from him that says, “Oh, happy Valentine’s day”. How is this helpful to this couple?
What if you are a wife and you have a husband who doesn’t make plans with you? I know married women who have whined and whined about the fact that their husband didn’t take them out for dinner on Valentine’s day. Um. He married you. He’s with you forever. He’s seen you in your ugly undies. He obviously loves you. How is this pressure helpful?
What if you are a girlfriend and you have a boyfriend and he’s living with you, or he’s not living with you but he’s seeing you five days a week. He didn’t buy you a bouquet of flowers on Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. He’s giving up five days a week of his own stuff to see you. Um. He obviously loves you. He doesn’t need to do something special on this specific day to prove it. How is this holiday helpful?
And what if you are a woman or a man who is NOT in a relationship but really wants to be. Does Valentine’s Day make you feel BETTER? NOOOOOO, it doesn’t. It’s all about coupledom and love and romance. If you want those things and haven’t found them, or just got dumped (which seems to happen more often right around Valentine’s Day!) then this holiday simply s**ks. No one wants to be reminded of the things they do NOT have but want. How, oh how, is this helpful?
So what do I really think?
I happen to love romantic gestures and thoughts. Wonderful candlelight dinners, and cards and gifts and special little things that are done because you love someone are awesome. And I do think people in a relationship should definitely spend the time and effort to do something special from time to time. But…. there are 365 days in every single year to let a person know that you have feelings for them. On every single one of those days, it is totally acceptable to buy your significant other a card or candy or trinket “just because I love you.” It’s acceptable to get married on any day or propose on any day or date on any day. It’s acceptable to cook your loved one a wonderful dinner, or rub his/her feet, or whatever it is that equates to romance in your unique relationship.
We don’t need Hallmark or Godiva or Zales or CVS or any other store to tell us when it’s time to be loving to our significant other.
So let’s all revolt and rise up against Valentine’s Day. It’s simply unnecessary. It’s simply unhelpful. Let’s stop buying cards and gifts and rings and making dinner reservations on that specific date. Let’s say NO to stupid holidays, and YES to real love 365 days a year!!!!
 My friend Misty is the exception; she and her family have started making each other special “Valentines boxes” which are filled with little tokens of love which enable them to make special family memories; they’ve turned the day into a real day of familial celebration!
I absolutely agree with the fact that Valentine’s Day is the “event horizon” of unmet expectations when it comes to the idealized showing of love. Every day is a day of love, and should be lived by appreciating the small tokens of doing things for each other like paying bills, doing dishes, helping with homework and living life together with mutual appreciation and respect. Retail capitalizes in February on what I feel is a much deeper cultural issue of lack of self awareness overall in relationships. All that being said, I’ve tried to make the best of being part of the shared national experience and teach our little guy taking time to celebrate the love we attempt to show daily. As for the romance side of things…flowers and dinner be damned…the best V day present is the oxytocin boost from the after hours skin on skin celebration!
Kat's Homes says
Misty, you rock! Yes, everyday we should appreciate each other, not just on the day retail says we “must”. And as for the skin on skin celebration — there’s nothing else that’s really needed, is there?