No holiday has garnered as much skepticism as Valentine’s Day. And I’ll start out by saying I have no disillusionment about changing that fact with a blog post. Nonetheless, as someone who has dedicated their career to studying love and relationships, I do think we’re a bit too down on what is supposed to be a day dedicated to romance.
If people aren’t griping about expenses, then they’re protesting commercialism. And god forbid you’re single on Valentine’s Day!
A (FALSE) FIGHT AGAINST CAPITALISM
Truth is, these protests demonstrate America’s confusion regarding something as impractical as love. After all, our culture demands efficiency, practicality, and putting yourself first. On the other hand, love demands vulnerability, putting someone else first, and delving into unfamiliar emotions. Celebrating Valentine’s Day, it could be argued, is more rebellious than disliking the holiday based on your own capitalist biases.
As with any holiday, corporations seize the opportunity to increase their profits by making seasonal products, services, and foods. But does that stop us from enjoying other holidays? If you think Valentine’s Day is just a sales gimmick, you better also be anti- Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s, and all other “commercial” holidays. And if this describes you…well then you must really hate an excuse to celebrate.
OVERSPENDING = CARING?
Now let’s tackle the oft-employed argument that Valentine’s Day is a waste of money; that since we can show our love any other day of the year, Valentine’s Day is just a contrived reason to overspend. I’ll concede it is used as a justification, for many couples, to shower each other with expensive gifts, but that doesn’t have to be the case for you. The best way to approach Valentine’s Day (and all gift-giving holidays) is to discuss a spending-cap for each partner well in advance. The second part of this argument—that we could celebrate love any other day of the year—seems to overlook the point of Valentine’s Day entirely…
THE “ANY OTHER DAY OF THE YEAR…” SPIEL
True, we COULD celebrate love for our partner(s), friends and family, or pet any other day of the year, but do we? When was the last time you set aside an entire day in recognition of your loved one(s)? And what—I wonder—is the problem with using Valentine’s Day as another excuse to show how much you care about someone? I cherish a chance to express my love, and I think we all should (in whatever form that takes).
BECAUSE IT’S MAINSTREAM
Last, and definitely least, are people who just haaate anything they dub “mainstream”. It’s really not stunning or interesting to dislike Valentine’s Day…my advice is to pick something more impressive to rage against, like mainstream gender roles or gentrification. Valentine’s Day is a pretty weak axe to grind, in my opinion.
I’m not going to end this with a call to action; do whatever you like come February 14. But please, if you hate the day, don’t make everyone suffer for it. Hopefully by next year more V-Day Grinches will see their hearts thaw.