Happy almost V-day! In celebration of a holiday that apparently nearly half the American population hates (and what feels like more than half of the people that I know), I thought it would be fun to break down some of the most common complaints that I’ve heard against the day and why I find these excuses problematic. If you’re one of the love-hating bellyachers in my life, listen up! This is for you.
Firstly, I am someone who is terribly fascinated with human ritual — especially holidays — so I did some research on the origins of Valentine’s Day and thought I would share. If you just want some interesting facts about the day, this list was an engaging, quick read (and I was able to fact check a decent bit of the info): https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/valentines-day-ideas/a26863/valentines-day-facts/
Or if you care a bit more about the history, I thought this was a good read as well:
My obsession with long-standing traditions aside, I really do have a problem with people who have a problem with Valentine’s Day. Even in my many years of singleness, it always perturbed me when people would go out of their way to crap on the holiday; please don’t think that my frustration is born out of the fact that I love a good platform to brag about my man. This beef predates his presence in my life by many years.
All of that to say, here’s my list of most common complaints about Valentine’s Day and why I think they are doo-doo.
1) “I hate Valentine’s day because I had a really terrible experience once.”
And? I had the Norovirus for Christmas once, so don’t even get me started on terrible experiences! It was rough. Me and every single other member of my family was the sickest I think any of us has ever been. Every bathroom, bowl, bucket, and even the backyard were being used to try to contain the physical manifestations of our misery (if you know what I’m saying). But we don’t sit around every Christmas thinking about that one time we nearly barfed and shat our brains out and then go out of our way to tell everyone else how much we hate Christmas. Bad experiences only have the power to ruin aspects of life for us if we let them. Be the kind of person who chooses to replace bad memories with good ones, not the kind of person who lets their joy be stolen and uses that bitterness to steal other people’s joy.
2) “Valentine’s Day sucks because it’s just a day for couples to rub their happiness in my face”
Again on the topic of bitterness — it’s an ugly shade on everybody. Don’t be that way. Nobody is going out of their way to be happy just to make you miserable. And frankly, if other people’s happiness does make you miserable, you should probably do some self evaluating because that’s a you problem.
3) “It’s just a commercialized holiday so companies can sell stuff”
That is literally true about every holiday ever in our modern consumerism-driven world. You can’t single out Valentine’s Day to not celebrate because of commercialization. Now, if you are one of those people who boycotts all holidays on the grounds that they’re just a giant marketing ploy, then I applaud your consistency and commitment to principle. However, I will also probably never invite your party-poopin’ butt anywhere because you kinda suck. Live a little.
4) “If you really love someone you’ll celebrate them every day, not just one day of the year”
This excuse makes my blood boil more than any of the others. It is the Battle Cry of the neglectful lover. I think people rally around this particular saying because they believe it makes them sound more loving, but here’s the thing: if you really love someone you WILL celebrate them every day INCLUDING Valentine’s Day. People who truly cherish their partners take every opportunity to show them love. Daily celebration is love in the little things — like taking out the trash or sending them sweet texts or watching their favorite movie with them even if you think it’s stupid. That kind of love and celebration is beautiful and necessary in all of its ordinariness.
But it is also important to pamper the people that you love with large gestures of affection. Pampering looks different for everyone though, so I’m not saying you have to subscribe to the chocolate and roses method. Maybe pampering your S.O. is building them new shelves in the pantry or going camping or getting them concert tickets or whatever will bring them joy. Of course I think you can do those things any day of the year, but why would you go out of your way to refuse to do it on a day that is literally set aside to demonstrate your love?
You should seize the moment — seize every moment — to love people well. You are not being counterculture when you refuse to celebrate Valentine’s Day, you’re being dismissive. And maybe there are exceptions to the rule, but my experience has always been that people who claim it is better to celebrate your partner every day, not on Valentine’s Day, are people who are trying to justify their emotional laziness. Those people aren’t ever going out of their way to love their partner well. And when you are being equally un-celebrated every day of the year, it is much harder to tell that you are being neglected than if there is a rise and fall to the patterns of affection displayed by the person who claims to love you. Again, there may be exceptions, but I have yet to meet one. If you are the kind of person who uses this excuse, I implore you to think of a time you did something big for your significant other. If you can’t think of a recent example, you really should reconsider your approach to loving well because I doubt you’re doing it.
5) “I don’t believe in Valentine’s Day because women say they want equality and then turn around and expect to be pampered on V-day. How’s that equal?”
I’ve heard this one a couple of times, but my most recent conversation about it got me the most riled up. I tried to interject that I love to pamper my fiance. I love to give him gifts and plan sweet surprises for him and write him letters so he knows exactly why and how much I love him. And if he gave me any indication that he wanted them, I would buy him flowers in a heartbeat, so what gave this guy the idea that V-day was only for pampering women? “Well, it’s implied. Especially in movies” was the response. I said, “Okay, but media professions are over-saturated with men. So men are the people telling you that Valentine’s Day is about women and I think you might need to take that complaint to the inner circle.” At this point, the subject was changed. But here’s the thing that really bugs me about this particular dismissal of Valentine’s Day: not only does it make the huge generalization that women are both superficial and hypocritical, it also enforces the false idea that men shouldn’t be pampered. As a woman who DOES want equality, I feel like the gender I need to fight for on this one is men. Love (or the celebration of it) is not inherently feminine and Valentine’s Day should never be only about women. Ladies, if you aren’t going out of your way to love your man so that he also feels equally cherished on Valentine’s Day, step it up!
I know there are other excuses, but these are the ones I hear the most that I felt like needed to be addressed.
In summary, CELEBRATE! Be the kind of person who enjoys showing love (if not to a romantic partner this year, to friends and family and to yourself!) Delight in other people’s joy, go out of your way to spread love and remember: if you aren’t buying butt loads of discounted chocolate on February 15th, Valentine’s Day is being sadly wasted on you. Make 2019 the year you do better.
Until next time,