Why not to celebrate Valentine’s Day

By Nico Salvatori
Opinion Editor

February 14, 2013

Loathing Valentine’s Day is not just the province of hopelessly lost single people, but a human right of every individual whose sincere love for another is undermined and put into question by manufactured, commercialized obligations and expectations. Valentine’s Day is a despicable, morally reprehensible enterprise perpetuated by corporations that have no other motive than making a profit by exploiting the insecurities of fragile or soon-to-be burgeoning relationships.

But dismissing Valentine’s Day simply on the grounds of its corporate associations is much too easy, and much too cliched. We can’t blame corporate greed for everything, however much we’d like to. We have only ourselves to blame for the social stigma imparted on those who choose not to celebrate the holiday—and that seems to be the real problem.

What causes the social alienation of Valentine’s Day heretics? Why, when one of us proclaims our right to abstain from celebrating the holiday, are we greeted with quizzical looks suggesting we’re just grouchy, lackluster lovers, too lazy to put forth any effort to show affection on the most amorous day of the year? It’s all a big mystery.

“But what’s the big freaking deal?” one might ask in defense of Valentine’s Day.

Regardless of its origins, Valentine’s Day now seems to rest solely on the premise that it is the one exclusive day on which lovers must prove their love for one another, as if every other day of the year means nothing. This is simply a testament to our collective lack of imagination, a confirmation bias that enables the illusion of happy times: Jimmy cheated on me the other day after calling me a rampantly degenerate slob, but he took me to dinner and bought me the prettiest flowers for Valentine’s Day. Ain’t I just the luckiest gal! 

The inverse is also true. An otherwise exemplary lover is often rebuked when he or she conscientiously objects to celebrating Valentine’s Day.

On another note, Valentine’s Day is the only day on which being unoriginal and unabashedly sappy is expected and worthy of praise. It obnoxiously discriminates against the sundry loves in existence every other day, diminishing the importance of unique and routine acts of affection in favor of a daylong event during which everyone expresses themselves in pretty much the same way: chocolate is always involved, as are sentimental greeting cards and cumbersome flowers—inadequate symbols of love, but not love itself. Because true love is intangible; it is a human right, not a commodity.

Real love is about endurance, compromise, and sacrifice, the ability to forsake our own selfish desires for the benefit of those whom we love. Love is often paradoxical. It is tender, yet resilient. It is long, heartfelt conversations, but is just as often sustained knowing silences, the kind of understanding only possible between two people very close to each other.

Love is ambiguous. It is the navigation of emotional uncertainties, many times resulting in heartbreak, a messiness unbecoming for heavily regulated Hallmark holidays.

Valentine’s Day neglects the multifarious complexity of love, its endless nuances. Instead, the love depicted on Valentine’s Day is overly simplified and controlled, devoid of what makes authentic love so rich and so necessary for human beings to flourish.

Boycott Valentine’s Day. If we have the capacity to feel sophisticated, transformative love, and to act upon it, then partaking in traditional Valentine’s Day conventions is an affront to our nature as compassionate human beings.

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