Every year bitter people all around the world gripe and complain about Valentine’s Day. The best part is, it’s not like anyone even asked them their opinion—all it usually takes is for February to approach and the same people start their usually rumblings of “Hallmark holiday” and “commercialism” and “insipid crap” and it drives me slowly insane. Because, you see, I am in a relationship—therefore, if I accuse people of being just a little bit bitter, heck, if I even gently suggest that maybe Valentine’s isn’t so bad after all, they give their little smirk and usual “well you have a boyfriend, so of course YOU would say that.”
And I think that’s unfair. First of all, no one is forcing anyone to celebrate Valentine’s Day, just like no one forces anyone to celebrate Christmas, Halloween or President’s Day. In fact, we are usually very sensitive to people who DON’T celebrate these holidays, but in a way that strikes a balance with people who do enjoy it.
But Valentine’s Day (like Christmas and Halloween and President’s Day) IS a day that SOME people do enjoy celebrating. If we can get annoyed with people who constantly put down Christmas (or the various other ‘cherished’ holidays) why is it ok to rain all over the happiness of this holiday because you disagree with it?
In fact, some of the same people who disregard Valentine’s as being a “Hallmark holiday” still celebrate Christmas, which, if you don’t happen to be religious (and sometimes even if you do profess to be) is even more of a commercially driven holiday. Of course, there is still the “Christmas is about family, and goodwill towards others” sentiment—and that’s fine. But isn’t Valentine’s, despite all of its flowery (and candy) overtones, also about what’s meant to be the most important? Celebrating love and friendship?
True, for some people, it’s not. For some people, Valentine’s is about begrudgingly spending too much money on roses and a card for your true love because society dictates that you should. For others it is about expecting those flowers and card because…well….because it’s Valentine’s! But for some (dare I say, many?) Valentine’s is just another way that you can remind someone special that they are just that—special.
Which brings me to my second point: people in relationships.
Yes, I have a boyfriend. Yes, I spent part of an absolutely wonderful February 14th with him. But I also spent part of that day sharing candy with my students, eating chocolates with my co-workers, and trying to find little ways to show people that I was thinking of them.
At 27, I’ve spent many a Valentine’s day with someone special, and those people were not always boyfriends. They were the grade one classmates who I spent all week making ‘mailboxes’ with to store all of our eagerly anticipated Tiny Toons and Power Rangers Valentines. They were the girlfriends I went to see ‘Guys and Dolls’ with and eat desserts. They were my family that year my Mom surprised us all with a heart shaped cake when we got home from school. Valentine’s Day is not just for people in relationships (at least, not to me) it’s for anyone who you care about, and who cares about someone else (and want’s to find a way to let them know). It doesn’t have to be a fancy card or chocolates or anything of the sort—why can’t it just be that extra reminder that ‘hey, I haven’t talked to my mom lately, I should call her and tell her I love her’ or ‘I really appreciate my friends. I should let them know’?
So yes, I think Valentine’s Day is wonderful. I think it’s wonderful to have a day set aside to remind people why they are special to you, and to have the opportunity to be reminded of that yourself (And yes, I do think it’s unfortunate that we live in a world where we need a day to remind us of this—but we do live in that world, and so why not make the most of it?)
Not everyone celebrates every holiday, or if they do, perhaps they don’t enjoy it. And I think that’s fine—to each their own, and so forth. But I don’t like the way it’s become ‘the thing’ to make fun of this particular holiday when to do so about others would almost certainly be expected to cause offence. Yes, I love Valentine’s Day. You don’t, and that’s cool. But if you really hate it that much, please do a solid to those of us who do and shut up about it?
And now, just for fun (and to end on a happy note) some photos from my own Valentine’s celebrations :)