Nothing wrong with showing love
Before I even begin an argument in favor of Valentine’s Day, I think it’s only fair to offer a disclaimer: I am in a relationship. For several years on Feb. 14, I have received chocolate and various species of stuffed animals holding giant hearts.
My point is that I realize some might consider my point of view murky, and I don’t disagree. As much as I enjoy (or pretend to enjoy) the presents, I find that Valentine’s Day gives us an opportunity to appreciate each other in a season that nobody particularly appreciates anything. In the midst of work and snow slush and school, there’s my best friend who is obligated by society to buy me things and not fart in front of me for a day. So no, I don’t mind Valentine’s Day.
But woeful Facebook statuses and snarky sitcoms remind me every year about the beef people have with this particular holiday. Single girls claim it’s depressing, which I understand. I won’t get started on not finding your worth in a man, so I’ll just say this. This is America, and you have the right to wallow or celebrate along with everyone else. Drink some sparkling grape juice with your friends, and just be happy knowing that you can marry “the one” when you meet him instead of someone your dad picks out for you. And then you, too, can bask in the stuffed animal Valentine’s Day glow.
Just about everybody else calls out big businesses for building it up so they can swim in the money their oh-crap-I-forgot-it’s-Valentine’s-Day cards produce. I shake my fist at Hallmark in sympathy, but let’s be real for a second.
Can you think of any holiday that remains untouched by commercialism? Whether it’s dropping hundreds of dollars on fireworks or a screaming witch that scares the pants off the neighborhood kids, we’ve all got our holiday vices. Let anyone without sin throw the first stone. Nobody? Thought so, ladies already pinning Christmas cookies on Pinterest.
Unfortunately for poor ol’ Valentine’s Day, love is a touchy subject in the first place, and a holiday that by its very nature excludes people has a target on its back.
But I suggest we remember that behind every holiday remains the uncontaminated reason for celebration.
And really, what better reason do we have to celebrate than love?
Simply another Hallmark holiday
Anti-Valentine’s Day articles by misanthropes who can’t possibly get a date have become something of a clichéd concept in recent years. In fact, cynicism toward sappy, gooey, atrocious concepts like true love has become such a mainstream commodity, one who wishes to remain countercultural now almost needs to start embracing that which they previously scorned and rejected.
That said, there are still plenty of reasons to lob insults at Valentine’s Day even if you DO believe in true love or any other hokey superstition that involves you fated to meet the person with whom you will spend the rest of your life.
In principle, there is something undoubtedly yucky and cloying, but also enduringly sweet and touching about Valentine’s Day. There is nothing inherently wrong with a day celebrating romantic love seeing as without many of us would not have been born (of course childbirth and love are not mutually dependent commodities so this does not ring true for every conceived child).
Of course, the gap between purpose and practice of this celebration leaves much to be desired.
Like almost every single major holiday widely celebrated in the United States, Valentine’s Day was long ago exploited by the corporation in an effort to make money. Without fail, after the New Year has drunkenly rung in, storefronts and shop displays are decked out with pink and red hearts, cupids, candy confections, and whatever else could possibly be Valentinized to squeeze an extra dollar out of both the deliriously in love and lovelorn.
To clarify, while conditional love may be capitalistic (everyone’s got to eat somehow), the kind of love we claim to value as human beings—that which is pure or at least sincere and unconditional—is not. And that is the kind of love which the marketplace loves to exploit because it works best at, no pun intended, pulling at your heartstrings.
This argument is by no means original (at least, I doubt it is, but if I happened to stumble upon something original that would be spectacular), but it is still quite pertinent. In fact, it is a virtual epidemic among every American holiday except those only celebrated by cultists and people who get a day off from work because of them—i.e. Arbor Day, Columbus Day, etc.
Even my beloved Thanksgiving, a holiday which is beautifully about families and friends sharing food and bonding over that which they are intrinsically grateful for, is now having its life parasitically sucked from it by Black Friday, which is now essentially “Black Thursday Evening” as well.
My proposition is to subtly replace Valentine’s Day with another day in a month that is suspiciously devoid of holidays: one that celebrates not just romantic love, but the love humans hold for one another sometimes just because we share our existences on this Earth with each other.
In fact, I would argue this is something we NEED; every other holiday has been tainted far too much.