Valentine’s Day: The (Unrightfully) Hated Holiday
By Laura Mooney, Arts Editor
When we were kids, Valentine’s Day meant going to the nearest supermarket and with the utmost precision picking out the colorful little pre-boxed cards that caught our eyes, knowing that the rest of the class was going to love them. Some came with stickers, some with candy; the choice we made would show other exactly how we felt about them, and so it had to be just right. When we were kids, the small section dedicated to the holiday featured cards with our most beloved movie or television characters, others with a straight to the point love theme, but they all had that cute little quip wishing someone a Happy Valentine’s Day. When we were kids, Valentine’s Day was the day you walked into your elementary school classroom to see the walls covered with red hearts and pink streamers, all paying homage to the love that filled this day. It was a day to sit down and make special bags that would store all of your classmates just as carefully selected Valentine’s that were addressed to you, that would be carefully placed into your hand crafted holder. That feeling you would get when you saw your secret crush approaching your bag and placing in their Valentine to you, and you knew you would treasure that one small card above all the others. When we were kids, we never thought of Valentine’s Day as a day to hate. It was not a day to be resentful or hostile. It was simply a day for love that everyone got to participate in. It was a day for everyone. Then something changed.
As we got older, the idea that Valentine’s Day was a day strictly for love remained, but now it was focused solely on couples. The idea that Valentine’s Day was for everyone slowly faded into a fabricated ideal. All of the commercials, the products, the dinners, were all pushing this idea that Valentine’s Day was only accessible to those who had found their soul mate, or at least a person to take to dinner for the night. All those who remained alone, began to feel as though they were being punished for it. No longer were we celebrating with an entire classroom full of people, it had become something private, and if you were not part of this elite group “allowed” to celebrate Valentine’s Day, you were definitely made aware of it.
Every year once February arrives, the public is bombarded with the message that if you are not in a relationship by Valentine’s Day, you should be worried. Dating sites begin to use scare tactics on their commercials, making comments such as “Valentine’s Day is just around the corner,” placing pressure on singles to make sure they are not left in the dust by the time the big day rolls around, and it works. Suddenly that panic sets in for all those who have yet to find the one. What if I am alone on Valentine’s Day? What if I have to spend the most romantic day of the year all by myself? The fear of being alone sets in, casting a shadow over what was once a celebrated day filled with love.
The stigma around what is supposed to be the most love filled holiday of the year was created. For all those people who remained single, the notion that Valentine’s Day was for couples only was hitting a nerve, and for good reason. Over the years, wave after wave of anti-Valentine’s Day propaganda began to flood the media just as much as the pro. It began to spring up in films, with even a movie called Valentine’s Day featuring a woman who throws an anti-Valentine’s Day party. Soon it became common to find anti-Valentine’s Day products in novelty stores, with candies that read “love stinks” and scowling bears, all marketed to the singles as if to tell them, “see, we hate Valentine’s Day too!”
The pressures of Valentine’s Day however did not remain exclusive to singletons, because now even those in a relationship have been succumbing to just as much stress, all based around having to make the most of the holiday for their significant other. Jewellery commercials, restaurants, and high-end stores all tell the doting males to spend obscene amounts of money in order to make their sweetie smile, and if not then they will have failed as a mate. These pressures alone have caused couples to throw in the towel, opting instead to ignore Valentine’s Day all together. So here stands this holiday, February 14th, a day that has left a bad taste in the mouths of those who once celebrated it. A day that once made us smile as children, now no more than a dreaded day that many just wish would vanish from the calendar. Somewhere along the way in the throes of commercialism, the meaning of Valentine’s Day that we had known as children got lost. Now is the time to remember it as it was.
Let us start thinking of Valentine’s Day as the day that celebrates love, not one specific type of love, but every type under the sun. Make this day the one where you can express your love for whomever you have in your life, even more so than you have on any other day of the year. Let us get rid of the stigma that has been surrounding Valentine’s Day for far too long and make it once again a day where everyone is included. Whether you are in a long-term relationship, going on a first date, going out with a group of friends, or even staying at home with your dog, Valentine’s Day should be about celebrating the love you have in your life at that very moment. By doing so we can take away the power that commercialism has had over Valentine’s Day, and instead make it once again about love, not about buying love with fancy presents. With the pressure gone we can once again open up the day for everyone, and celebrate it once again just as we did once as children.