I didn’t want to be the Grinch who stole romance last week, but Valentine’s Day really pisses me off!
Now full disclosure time – I have never received a Valentine’s present or eaten in a restaurant on 14 February. To me 14 February is special for only one reason – dear friends have the surname Valentine and I celebrate their love for each other. I do this rather than commemorate the anniversary of the wife’s death.
But back to Valentine’s Day! I first discovered this “day” in novels I read when I was a kid. Anne of Green Gables, What Katy Did, contained references to St Valentine’s Day, note Saint Valentine’s Day. It is/was an American custom to give a card, anonymously, to your loved one, or potential loved one.
Why St Valentine became the patron saint of lovers, engaged couples, bee-keepers, epileptics and travelers, is not clear, even though he is celebrated in Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran liturgy on 14 February. The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.
It took the 20th Century to stipulate expensive dinners, huge bunches of flowers and obscenely expensive chocolates were the norm on 14th February. It is a great opportunity to load guilt onto the men and women who don’t wish to participate in this “Hallmark moment” and drop the Saint from the name of the day.
In an office environment, from early morning enormous flower arrangements appear, each delivery seemingly more expensive than its predecessor. The person who doesn’t receive flowers becomes a figure of pity – no-one in your life loves you enough to spend hundreds of dollars on a floral arrangement – just how many hundreds of dollars depends on whether you would like them alive!
Then comes the dinner at, of course, only the best restaurants, where there is a special “lover’s” menu, more expensive than anything they would usually charge. Again full disclosure, I’ve been the restaurant manager who sat down and with the chef and worked on a menu which looked good and gave us maximum profit – people will spend anything on Valentine’s Day.
At a more basic level, I object to being told: “on 14th February, you will show GOM you love him and he will return the gesture.” If I need reminding I love GOM, then there is a deep flaw in our relationship. Should I discount the fact that he waters our garden, which produces beautifully scented roses year round, just because it doesn’t come with an expensive pink bow? Are all the kind and caring gestures he makes throughout the year less valuable because they don’t happen on Valentine’s Day?
To everyone who loves Valentine’s Day, enjoy.
Me? I’ll wait until 15th February and buy the leftover chocolate roses at 50%, or more, off the marked price! I gladly celebrate love, but for me, the cool drink on a hot day speaks volumes; it is far more appreciated than the bunch of flowers, the price of which is comparable to the GDP of a small nation.