Valentine’s Day: love or hate?

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Hate

So I’m well aware of the fact that many couples out there are probably already planning their Valentine’s Day. Maybe even you are, as you sit back listening to my rant whilst thinking, “I bet she’s single”. However, surprisingly enough, I’m not. In fact I’ve been with my boyfriend for three and a half years, and have had my fair share of soppy Valentine’s Day cards, as well as cute gifts such as romantic comedy films, chocolate, and a large bouquet of flowers.

Don’t get me wrong, when my boyfriend and I exchanged these gifts during our first Valentine’s Day together, I thought it was great, but at the time, I didn’t really think about just how commercial the occasion really is. A vast quantity of you will probably not want to think about this, but in reality, Valentine’s Day cards and gifts are produced not to make consumers happy, but merely in order to achieve  a hefty profit. (Marx would be proud of this observation). As a consumer society, we are so easily persuaded to buy a huge amount of commodities.

While I can’t deny that I enjoy picking out the perfect birthday or Christmas card, as well as the ideal presents for my loved ones, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I merely pick a card out of routine, and I certainly don’t participate in buying gifts anymore, (unless it’s alcohol related, in which case I will make an exception). My boyfriend respects this, since like myself, he too believes that Valentine’s Day has no real value attached to it. (This is not to say that I wouldn’t appreciate him buying a gift for me!)

I find it sweet that couples exchange gifts and go out for meals on this occasion, but I just don’t see the point in making a big deal of it. The following question is something which I have debated for ages, and is something which I can’t get my head around: why put more effort in to your relationship on this one particular day, when you should be putting in the effort every day? I appreciate the kind gestures, but why feel that a card is necessarily to reaffirm your love for your other half? In most cases, your other half already knows how you feel about them.

Love

I love Valentine’s Day. After Christmas, it’s probably my favourite holiday of the year. Hopeless romantic that I am, any excuse to indulge in excess chocolate and soppy films (Pride and Prejudice, anyone?) makes me happy. But honestly- it’s a holiday dedicated to the celebration of one of the most integral things to human existence: love. And what better, more worthwhile thing can there be to celebrate than love? Love is life, love makes the world go round and to use the words of the Beatles: ‘all you need is love.’

Yes, Valentine’s Day has lately become the mindless Hallmark Holiday whose empty commercialism bitter single women and harassed boyfriends all over the world use as an excuse to hate it. But when it gets right down to it, that’s not what the holiday is about. If we go back to the beginning, Valentine’s Day has its roots in a celebration of the martyred Saint Valentine.

Persecuted for being a Christian, legend has it that whilst imprisoned, he healed Julia, the blind daughter of his jailor. On the night before his execution, he wrote her a letter to say goodbye. And thus it came to be that the first Valentine’s card (or, in this case, parchment) came into existence- by one man and a simple act of kindness. It wasn’t until recently that Valentine’s Day became associated with romantic love.

So you’re single. And Valentine’s Day, to you, is the perfect reminder of just how single you really are. But why should it be? There is undoubtedly some form of love in your life- and though it may not involve the man or woman of your dreams, it’s still a wonderful, meaningful thing that deserves recognition. And Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to celebrate it.

Or perhaps you’re in a relationship. Yes, I think you should celebrate your love every day. But think of Valentine’s Day like your Birthday- just because there’s one day of the year we celebrate your existence doesn’t mean we don’t care on all of the others. And Birthdays, much like Valentine’s Day, are the best.

So just this once, look at and love Valentine’s Day the way I do. Stop it with the dread of buying expensive roses; get rid of that sense of obligation. Embrace the holiday of love for the wonderful thing it is and spread that joy around. Be thankful for your loved ones or buy yourself some of those delicious chocolate hearts and ultimately, be happy: it’s Valentine’s Day.

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