Younger people feel a particular pressure to honour the day because, rather than seeing its popularity increase, it has been an ingrained part of modern culture for their whole lives. Commercialism is nothing new to this generation who are used to their eyeline being sold to the highest bidder. Your average 20-year-old wants to walk down the aisle to a Disney song, has ‘Just Do It’ tattooed across their chest and, when cut, bleeds Alien-esque corrosive Coca Cola. To this infantilised, Nike-inked, coke-bleeder, Valentine’s Day is like Christmas, only pinker.
There are other relatively recent annual events that could also be accused of being fabrications designed to prise open your wallet, but Valentine’s Day is particularly divisive. Mothers’ Day doesn’t receive the same flack because it’s more sincere. If you walk into a restaurant on Mothers’ Day, you aren’t repulsed by the sight of all the other people there with their mums. That’s probably because it’s not exclusive. Everyone has or had a mother. That’s biology for you. Single people can start to feel like they’re the only single person in the world, and when February 14th comes around it kicks down the door and carves the words ‘YOU ARE ALONE’ into their eyelids.
A big part of it is that Mothers’ Day doesn’t have a colour scheme, and there aren’t any sickeningly soppy Mothers’ Day films. There isn’t a formula for Mother’s Day, whereas the compulsory Valentine’s Day card, roses, and meal are horribly ironic: attempting to make someone feel special by doing the same as everyone else. Valentine’s Day is more like New Year’s Eve. It’s enforced fun time because the best kind of fun is non-negotiable. It’s not presented as an opportunity to do something nice, but as a day on which you’re miserable if you don’t. It’s a day that superficially turns the whole world into Gay Paree, but beneath the rose petals, it is a day when the glass of expensive wine is always half empty.
The greeting card sums up Valentine’s Day. You have to send a card, and what do you write inside? Well, there’s usually someone else’s poor poetry or vague soppiness printed in there, but what do you add beneath that? A question mark. What says “I love you” like a card which contains a single piece of punctuation? It’s just lazy. Having said that, there is a certain romance in sending an anonymous card to someone you’re not yet romantically involved with, but if this is your big chance to tell them how you feel and you just put a question mark, you deserve to be alone.
Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day are a good opportunity to thank your parents for putting up with you. Valentine’s Day should be the same. We’ve all got someone who (romantically or otherwise) puts up with us, and they need thanking. Let’s get rid of the artifice, boycott the restaurants full of yucky couples paying twice the normal price, and rename February 14th ‘Thanks For Putting Up With Me Day’.
Think about it:
It doesn’t exclude anyone because if you have no one who puts up with you, you can either A) be thankful that you aren’t a burden to anyone or B) take this as a wake-up call to deal with your insufferable behaviour.
Presents, outings and meals may well be involved, but they won’t all conform to a specific type or colour. It will be like it’s everybody’s birthday on the same day, kind of like a second Christmas, and what the barren wasteland that is February really needs is its own Christmas. Easter tries to be the late winter / early spring celebration, but it ruined itself by introducing 40 days of giving things up. Admittedly, Pancake Day is pretty good fun, but you can have pancakes on Thanks For Putting Up With Me Day, too.
Finally, and most importantly, if we introduce Thanks For Putting Up With Me Day you will never have to read yet another sarcastic opinion piece bemoaning Valentine’s Day.
By Matt Watts