Here it is: another contrived, consumerist holiday that no one seems to like yet to which everyone falls victim in one way or another.
Valentine’s Day appeals to only one relatively small subset of the population: single dudes. Valentine’s Day used to be my favorite night of the year to go drinking. The bars were full of drunk women who were feeling sorry for themselves all day. It was like fishing with dynamite.
But in years in which I was not single, the day was awful. It’s a day when society forces you to spend money and time doing something that any not-asshole would do regularly throughout the year. And it’s not like you could make a principled objection even if your significant other was of like mind. If, for example, you ignored Valentine’s Day, your girlfriend would be subjected to the humiliation of telling her co-workers that her boyfriend ignored her.
Valentine’s Day is a day of forethought and decisions for dudes. It’s easy if you’re in a committed relationship of some sort, but it gets dicey if you’re not. What do you do when you’ve been dating a girl for only a few weeks? Your actions on the dreaded V Day will define your course henceforth. Gifts or dinner plans implies serious interest at least, and a relationship at worst. I’ve had more than a few dating ‘relationships’ end due to my determined inaction on Valentine’s Day. Just as action has implications, inaction makes a pretty bold statement, too.
On Valentine’s Day, single girls are told by society that it is not acceptable to live alone in a one-bedroom apartment with her cat. And, of course, it’s somewhat misogynistic in that it implies that women are dainty, passive ornaments who only receive in accordance to the whims of their patriarchs.
And who can’t identify with the anxiety of Valentine’s Day celebrations in elementary school where you’re either forced by your parents/teachers to give valentines to people who make your skin crawl or getting shut-out by the kid whose parents didn’t have the same compassion and foresight as yours? It’s a shit pie any way you look at it.
People like me enjoy blaming Valentine’s Day on big, evil companies like Hallmark. It’s neither accurate nor fair, but it’s fun and convenient nonetheless. The history of St. Valentine’s Day, however, tells a different story. According to wikipedia — which we all know is always reliable — V-Day was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 A.D. (for those of you who are Latin-challenged, A.D. does NOT mean ‘after death’ as my former students seemed to think. It means Anno Domini, translated the year of our lord.)
Stepping outside our ethnocentric worlds, it appears some cultures have more wisdom than our own. In some Muslim countries, for example, Valentine’s Day is either banned or discouraged by the state. This includes Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan and Malaysia. Sure, you think Jihadist, I think brilliance. Well done, Mr. Mujahideen. Well done!