Dear Valentine’s, what shall we do with you?
When I was a child, we didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in my (then communist) country. I’ve never even heard about it for the first 18 or so years of my life.
When it finally arrived – along with an amazing and overwhelming choice of shops and products, all the glitz and glitter of the West we in the East were so unused to – at first, Valentine’s seemed to be just another product of advanced consumerism, a holiday designed to make people feel guilty if they don’t show their love by spending money on overpriced larger-than-life flower bouquets and chocolate boxes for their partners.
I realise now it was mainly because the occasion itself, since it was introduced so mechanically, simply had no symbolic or emotional meaning for me – so I only saw the exaggerated shopping-gifting side of it. But even though over time I got to understand its purpose and symbolism much better – still, to date – celebrating Valentine’s Day somehow never really grew on me.
Despite its good intentions, instead of being one big party in the name of love, it seems to usually achieve quite the opposite: make all those without a partner feel left out from the party because they don’t have that one special person in their lives – much in the way beauty magazines with pictures of people with great bodies and perfect complexions often times make us feel ugly rather than beautiful.
And those in relationships are under even more pressure – many of them feel they have to force themselves into feeling especially romantic and in the mood for great love gestures on the day, even though it’s probably just a crazy workday like any other. And if you are not feeling it, the Valentine date-night can easily turn into a just another “to-do” list item that creates more frustration than pleasure.
The way I see it, Valentine’s as it is makes people who are lonely feel more lonely, people who are unhappy more unhappy, people who are not in the mood for it even less in the mood – and only the ones who happen to be crazy in love on that particular date probably enjoy it to the fullest.
Of course, there are also the ones who simply don’t care one way or the other whether they celebrate it or not, and the ones who consciously ignore it – but still, why would we have to try hard to ignore it, or try even harder to make something super-romantic happen to us?
I am not saying we shouldn’t have a day dedicated to love and loving – quite the opposite, I believe that love more than anything deserves our attention and celebration. But I do think Valentine’s Day should get somewhat of a makeover.
We should make it more about love, and less about lovers. Praise love in all its forms and sizes, not just the Hollywood-style fairytale romance.
Our busy and task-filled lives often make us focus more on the immediate, rather than the important – so this day could be a nice occasion to remember and enjoy all the different kinds of love we feel and give to ourselves and others. And everything else we love – from sunshine to poetry, from art to ice-cream.
It should be a day which will motivate us to love our lives more every other day too. Which will remind us that love is the essence of our being, and we are its source, not just object. And that loving is the greatest way to bring more happiness and joy into our lives, and the world in general.
That would be a Valentine’s Day I think more people would feel good celebrating, myself included.
And nobody would have to feel like they’ve been left out from the party.
LET ME HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS
How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?
Does the thought of it make you smile… or frown?
Thank you for contributing to the conversation!