Valentine’s Day isn’t my favorite holiday. I hesitate to even refer to is as a holiday, as technically it’s considered an “observance,” but for the sake of this article, I’ll let that go. The overarching idea of most holidays — days where we do things we should be doing everyday (giving thanks, expressing how much we love and care for our friends or family, etc.) — doesn’t sit well with me.
I don’t bad mouth these days when they come along. At Thanksgiving, I happily sit in the company of family and eat in excess, knowing I’m thankful every day. On Mother’s and Father’s Day, I try to be less of a pain to my parents, while at ease with the knowledge that they’re already aware of how much I appreciate them. When Christmas rolls around, I give gifts and pretend that it wouldn’t be much more special if we did so on random occasions.
Valentine’s Day, though; I’m the kind of person who will badmouth Valentine’s Day.
I could say all of the traditionally cliché words that come out of most people’s mouths when they complain about Valentine’s Day. It’s made up by the greeting card companies as a venue of profit. Hallmark and Whitman’s are in business solely because of it. It’s a day that forces you to listen to people complain about being single, while at the same time assaults you with an endless amount of posts on social media about a girl’s never-ending love of her boyfriend.
That short list gets the majority of my complaints about Valentine’s Day out of the way. I likely have nothing revolutionary to add to the conversation on my own, but I do surround myself with a group of strongly opinionated individuals. With this in mind, I messaged a group of ten people in my life — people of varying ages, in varying stages of relationships — and asked them to send me a brief response regarding their opinion of Valentine’s Day, whether it be positive or negative.
The replies rolled in, beginning with a response from my father, who has been married to my mother for nearly thirty years: “It’s the perfect way to wind down after celebrating Groundhog Day for two weeks,” my father continued, “If it wasn’t for Valentine’s Day, no one would remember to tell their soulmate, every year, that they love them.”
The latter of his two sarcastic replies was a recurring idea expressed by others who responded to me, as well as hit home with my original perception of most holidays. Why do we specify a day to express our love — love that we should be sharing with our significant other on a daily basis?
Two of the friends I messaged are in a three-year-long relationship with one another. I was interested in seeing if this couple held similar perceptions about the holiday, seeing as they’ve spent multiple Valentine’s Days together.
He responded before she did: “As a boyfriend, I understand that I should show affection. However, as a man, I think it’s more important to show continuous love throughout the year to those you love.”
Shortly after, she said, “I like the idea of it. However, I do feel that men do not get the pleasure of enjoying the holiday the majority of the time.”
She raised an interesting point. Who does Valentine’s Day matter to in a relationship, and is there a party in a relationship that holds the day to a higher standard? This idea is challenged when you take LGBTQ couples into consideration.
Shortly after her message, another message from a friend came through that addressed my concern: “Valentine’s Day is often symbolized by the standard straight couple which sometimes leaves the LGBTQ+ community without representation,” said my friend.
A variety of thoughts and opinion were brought to the surface as the discussion on Valentine’s Day continued. One person included the historical reasoning for Valentine’s Day in their response, and a few more responded cynically: “I’m working. I’ve worked the past four Valentine’s Days; the end.”
What I took away from the people around me, is that they’re not necessarily too crazy about Valentine’s Day. They like it, to an extent. Maybe they even celebrate it. But there’s a part of them that takes issue with the day and what it presents itself as.
My advice? Tell your partner you love them more than once a year.