Ah, (St) Valentine’s Day. It’s hard not to think about that day without feeling a little queasy, especially if you only need to go into Clinton’s to get a birthday card and are faced with The (card) Wall of “to my gorgeous boyfwend this Valentine’s, teehee love you babe!” – yep. Less of that, please.
This, of course, goes regardless of relationship status. I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad for being soppy, because it’s great to show someone how much you love them, and Valentine’s Day is – for good reason – a great day to put the effort in to show that in particular. However, as we all know now, it has become unashamedly commercial, and if you don’t get an anonymous rose in your mail box then Saint Valentine himself dictates that you are to die alone under a mountain of empty Pot Noodles in about 30 years time. Additionally, if you’ve studied any American history at GCSE, you’ll hear ‘massacre’ after ‘St Valentine’s Day’ without much thought, and the fairly gory photo of the aftermath doesn’t really inspire warmth and affection. In fact, combine that photo with a solid collection of heart-shaped cards, and you might need a bucket fairly swiftly. Happy Valentine’s Day, readers!
Joking aside, it’s a love/hate kind of day. If you decide to give a gift, it’s hard to be original, because standard kit for gifts (typically) for women usually involve flowers and chocolate. And how can you complain about that? Maybe you genuinely love those things, and for that reason they have really thought it through when buying them. But then there are those who see both items under a stand that reads “For Your Loved One this Valentine’s Day: These’ll Do”. Long live modern romance.
One way to change that might be to subvert traditional gifts and get them something they really want. If they’ve been banging on about going somewhere for a while, if it’s not impossible, surprise them with a trip there. If they have a favourite meal, cook it for them. If their favourite colour is purple, then throw a load of Dairy Milk bars at them* and call them Cupid’s arrows. Or just give the bars to them – which brings us back to chocolate, but hey, you’ve given it thought. (*yeah, don’t do that)
This goes for friends too. In First Year, in the ultimate cliché, my friends and I sat round a kitchen table in good ol’ Slaidburn House and ordered pizza, bought some chocolate pudding from Spar downstairs and drank copious amounts of cider from drinking-in-the-park-as-a-minor 2lr bottles. It transpired to be a great evening, and says something about keeping good company on the 14th having more importance than having someone you may, one day, pay council tax with.
Valentine’s Day is also the marker for mid-term. It’s on Sunday of Week 5, which is the point people will be like “can you BELIEVE it’s half way through term?! OMG time is going SO fast!” and then everyone around them will react as if they’ve just been woken up, with similar proclamations of astonishment. Talking of the weekend as a whole, it’s usually one of the last before deadlines start kicking in again and therefore, at the risk of sounding like your mother, have fun. There will be the usual nights out in town, plus one college’s certain lengthy bar crawl on the Saturday (though don’t hold me to that). Valentine’s need not dictate your weekend – it’s important only if you choose it to be, as unlike Christmas and perhaps Easter, it strictly spans over one day, or even one evening, only. The next day will be full of vague reminders that love exists, usually in the form of discount chocolate and single petals poetically drifting along the Spine before being stood on.
I find it impossible not to poke fun at the day. Miraculously this year I’m with someone for Valentine’s; however, in a strange twist, it makes it harder to think about the 14th than before, because it’s not just a low-key day for yourself, but – supposedly – a high-key (?) day for both of you. I am not complaining at all, but I may employ the glory of Leslie Knope by rapturously enforcing Galentine’s Day celebrations and simply hand him a post-it note that says “I quite like you” on the day itself instead.
Really though, I’d be impressed to find someone who can’t at least smirk at the occasion generally. To be honest, I’m much more excited about the prospect of Shrove Tuesday (9th February), which means PANCAKES! Could we not just be more forward-thinking as a society and merge the two dates together, creating I Love You Pancakes Day? No?
Whatever you’re up to this 14th February, try to forget about the onslaught of commercialisation and make it personal in some way. It is sickly sweet, but there’s some merit in that, because it does remind you to tell your friends, family, loved one, pet dog etc. that they’re fab and mean a lot to you. It’s not a day that holds the most to look forward to, true; nonetheless, there’s no reason not to make your Valentine’s Day this year a memorable one regardless. And, sincerely, have a Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.