Some impromptu brain dumping here...
Valentines Day, this year is coming at a particularly sensitive time of the year for me. I've been feeling really out of sorts lately and felt it best to clear out some ruminations. What is Valentines Day anyways? Another classic Americanised holiday? A day attributed to love? Some time to show your significant other that you care - with a token gesture of roses, a card or a box of chocolates? Firstly what is Valentines Day? Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine and is celebrated annually on February 14th. It originated as a Christian feast day honouring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and, through later folk traditions, has become a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world. Modern Valentines - and Valentine's Day customs include sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"), offering confectionery and presenting flowers – developed in early modern England and spread throughout the English-speaking world during the 19th century. In the later 20th and early 21st centuries, these customs spread to other countries, like those of Halloween, or aspects of Christmas. Valentine's Day is also celebrated in many East Asian countries with Singaporeans, Chinese and South Koreans spending the most money on Valentine's gifts
I have zero issues with supporting local businesses in the current market climate, however, please for one second take into consideration the money-making scandals of the big corporations and chains that pressure you to spend upon a fancy seven-course degustation or a swanky staycation. I'm not jaded, I just believe that Valentines Day is wrought. And if you want to show tokens of appreciation to your lover, partner, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend etc then why not do it any old day of the year. In the United States alone, about 190 million Valentine's Day cards are sent each year, not including the hundreds of millions of cards school children exchange without record. Valentine's Day is a major source of economic activity, with total expenditures in 2017 topping $18.2 billion in 2017 or over $136 per person. I don't agree with celebrating ‘Love’ on one day of the year and I also believe that celebrating love should not be limited to solely romantic love. I think that platonic love and the love you have for your family should be celebrated just as much as romantic love. If we celebrate the love we have for our friends, family, significant others, etc., every day it becomes a more genuine appreciation for love rather than a forced day filled with consumerism. I do think many people spend exorbitant sums of money for Valentines Day because they feel obligated to, Valentines Day has become a societal event where people feel as though they have to spend money to place a value on their love. I wonder how much money people would spend on their significant other if Valentines Day did not exist?
I feel like Valentine's day also brings on space for judgement, expectations and unsolicited comments from others significant or insignificant. I'm currently (and rapidly) approaching 31 years of age, and I'm even farther away from settling down in any relationship or significant connection than I even was ten years ago. Is that a reflection of me? Am I that unlikeable or unloveable? Planting the seeds of self-doubt is what I feel, and this day in particular for me opens up an onslaught of self-judgement and self-hatred. As Valentine’s Day comes and goes annually, many of us single people out there may be making those self-deprecating dating jokes about how lonely we are amongst a sea of seemingly happy couples. The day is supposed to be filled with love, affection, red roses and all of the butterflies, rainbows and unicorns in between. When you think of it, Valentine’s Day puts pressure on society and individuals to find that special someone to show your love to. Hell, some may have even jumped the gun to not be single on Valentine's day and might have landed themselves in a toxic relationship. The pressure of getting a date and romantic gestures especially on this day defeats the real purpose of love in our community.
Blame the hype, on all those cheesy romance films surrounding Valentine’s Day and romance in general. Couldn’t think of a better way to induce a gag reflex in me. These films push the idea of the perfect romantic gesture, making you rush to get every detail right or better yet make sure you have something extravagant to give to your partner. With regards to Timelines - expectations are often generational. Settle down, marry, have kids, all of that bullshit. Parents push for it, as they want to experience the joy of being grandparents. Expectations are passed through generations and carried, and each subsequent generation carries the burden forwards. For many singles, especially those who don’t subscribe to events, like Valentine’s Day, it can be a challenging time where it feels as though every colleague, family member and coupled-up friend suddenly has an opinion on your relationship status. Pitying comments like “I can’t believe you’re still single” or “you’ll meet someone soon” coupled with unsolicited advice ranging from “you need to lower your standards” to “have you considered men or women?” can often leave singles feeling attacked and singled out. Or even “I’m sure you have a line up of suitors waiting for you” – like I’m a fucking object to be used and then passed around. This mentality is further amplified by retail giants as well as the media, as mentioned earlier, who send out messages months before Valentine’s that makes you feel like you’re not “whole” unless you’ve found your other half.
For those who have felt the pressure of single-shaming year in year out, it can be an especially confronting time of year that makes you feel like your singlehood is something to be embarrassed about. However the “couple’s celebration fucking day” doesn’t have to be like this for the singles amongst us. With the right mindset, it can be a great time to reaffirm your sense of self and some degree of confidence in your skin. When responding to single-shaming comments, don’t feel the need to defend, excuse or cover up your single status - you do you boo! Remember you’re not on anyone else’s timeline but your own and you don’t have to be in a relationship for the sake of societal expectations and pressures (both internal and external). We should be using Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to rethink singledom and new cultural narratives should be developed that don't attach so much importance to the romantic status of individuals in our, increasingly single, society. Fuck you, Covid-19 divorce, relationship breakdown, and community disconnection and isolation rates. So if it's a Hallmark holiday, listed and printed in our calendars annually... then how do we rewrite the narrative of Valentines Day itself? Re-frame our thinking – and celebrate love every day of the year not just because it’s February 14th. How can we show self-love or appreciation instead, in the moments of weakness when we are allowing our inner critic to berate ourselves?
Gratitude and mindfulness can overcome even the worst of self-doubts and inner critic narratives. What is something that you love in particular? Do that thing instead. Treat yourself with something you enjoy – whether it requires spending money or not. But most of all - Fuck Valentines Day and everything it stands for. Love is universal and should be celebrated every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month and every damn day of the year!