Valentine’s Day: it’s here, it’s expensive, and it’s totally unnecessary. Don’t let the suckers pull you in.

 

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Creative Commons License by Dustin Gaffke


 
What could be more romantic than a gaudy stuffed teddy bear nestled in an oversized balloon, embellished with tacky ribbon and confetti to boot? Just about anything, I hope your inner-self is screaming. You know the ones I mean – those hideous creations that look like they might have been stocked directly from Blackpool Pleasure Beach (if you still don’t know what I’m on about, take a look here http://goo.gl/jcUzYt). Yet, year after year, they suddenly appear in card and confectionary shops, as if whisked into existence by a particularly distasteful magician. Based on their persistent reappearances, they must be in demand – people must actually buy those god-awful things. Still, part of me wants to cling on to the dire hope that no one in this greatly unfair, twisted world would ever sink that low. No one would commit such an evil as purchasing one of those monstrosities for their lover, right? Wrong. 

As a young woman in a healthy, committed relationship, it always strikes me in the most disconcerting way how much pressure I feel to have a ‘good’ Valentine’s Day. It’s like there’s some kind of expectation the world has of me and my relationship, and that if we and it don’t live up to said expectation, we’re done for; we’ve failed. I know, in myself, that this is entirely absurd and that me and my very happy other-half really aren’t out to impress anyone – after all, a good relationship only cares about what the people in it think, not the external critics – or so it seems. So why do I feel the need to make the day count? It’s just like any other day after all, apart from the reservation-less restaurants, card shops full of late minute spenders, and masses of soppy singletons cursing couples to Hades. 

St Valentine’s romantic influence was supposedly born from his biographies. The saint was imprisoned for, among other things, performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. This seemingly small aspect of St Valentine’s life was then exaggerated and drawn out to satiate the courtly love tradition that populated the High Medieval Ages. So basically, Chaucer and his circle are to blame for the over-the-top consumerist frenzy of a finish line that is our modern-day February 14th. As if I needed any other reason to hate him beyond EN2003.

 

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Creative Commons License by rabiem22

 

I think we should all take a step back and see Valentine’s Day for what it really is – an empty, hollow shell of an excuse for romance. If it really takes a certain consumer-driven day of the year to roll around before you feel the care, respect and appreciation you deserve from your other half, something’s a bit off. Setting a day for romance seems strikingly counterproductive, not only because the whole element of spontaneity is abolished, but also because everyone else is out there with you – filling up the restaurants, the cinemas, the hotels. How are you supposed to have time to yourselves and make it special when everyone else is doing the exact same thing? A sunset picnic in the park just isn’t the same when the attendance is above two. No overpriced lobster dinner is going to live up to those unplanned moments of romantic joy; those impromptu countryside walks and sleepless nights of endless, nonsensical chatter and sweet, involuntary laughter. Romance is not born from expense and planning, and you most certainly cannot put a price on love.

 
 

Sally Allmark

 

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