The most romantic of days upon us. The skies are blue, the sun is shining and bluebirds are gently chirping as you walk hand in hand with your partner, in wholesome appreciation of your undying love for each other. This is the familiar Valentine’s Day cliché we are pitched. Natali Dimitrova balances the narrative by proposing 5 things that the 14th of February inevitably ruins:
- Supermarket shopping.
Every Loughborough student who lives in halls knows what an ordeal walking into town is. As a result, most of us subsist off ready meals snatched from the LSU shop in-between lectures. In this context, the weekly Tesco shop becomes an almost magical adventure, when you finally have access to more than one type of peanut butter. As soon as February rolls around, however, you are visually attacked by heart shaped candies, pink cards and fluffy teddy bears – all intended to remind you Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. While irritating to single people for obvious reasons, the flip side is that those of us in relationships inadvertently become riddled with anxiety about living up to an untenable ideal.
- Going out with your friends.
Odds are that couples will embark on a romantic evening together and you will be left in the company of your single friends. Any other day, going out with them would have been a fun way to catch up and blow off steam at the end of the week. On Valentine’s Day, however, ‘girls’ night’ suddenly becomes a notion that elicits sympathy and gentle head nods by others. We have all been exposed to kind words of support like “I’m sure you’ll find someone soon” or “Good for you – you don’t need a man.” In attempts to avoid this you stay home, eat ice cream and become the stereotype of a single person on the 14th of February.
Maybe red is your favourite colour. Maybe you wear it pretty much every other day. If it happens to be Valentine’s Day, however, it suddenly becomes de-facto promotion of the holiday and its rampant consumerism agenda. Nobody wants to match the window dressing or be plagued by questions about who their Valentine is. So you zip up your grey sweatshirt and change the subject to the good/bad/mediocre weather – always a safe topic.
- Listening to the radio
It’s inevitable. Whether its “Top 10 most romantic songs” or “Love songs of the 2000s”, even your favourite radio station is likely to betray you and subject you to an endless stream of ballads. Half an hour into the drive you forget a song has ever been written on a different subject or that any other form of elevated emotion has ever existed. Similarly television – once a safe haven from life’s problems and daily stress, is now a parade of Valentine’s Day specials with cheesy one-liners and watered down plots. Avoid.
- Your Bank account
If you do have a special someone to share Valentine’s Day with, odds are you will be dipping into your overdraft. What normally would have consisted of seeing a movie or having a casual drink has somehow transpired into hot-air-balloon rides, chocolate fountains and midnight star gazing with a bottle of Moët in your head. Even the most down-to-earth fellow gets overwhelmed by the pressures of Valentines Day and tries to rise to an unrealistic standard of romance. You find yourself booking Brown’s Lane rather than popping into Peter’s pizza and suddenly walking into town no longer seems like a respectable option. And no, of course she won’t wear flats, so you dial ADT. Better get the piggybank out.
The problem with Valentine’s Day is same problem with all holidays in contemporary western society – it is less a celebration of affection towards someone and more an exercise of consumerism. More importantly, you shouldn’t rely on a single day of the year to show appreciation for those you care about. So this year call your mum, skype your sister, surprise your boyfriend or girlfriend – tell them you love them. Just do it on the 15th of February.