Culture Dating Features opinion piece

Valentine’s Day: Where is the love?

With Valentine’s Day getting more commercialised every year, has its true meaning been lost among all the marketing? Or is the love still there?

The first ever Valentine’s Day was recorded in the year 496. Once a festival encompassing the celebration of fertility rites and new budding relationships has now married itself to a day/week/month of over-the-top, expensive, unnecessary expressions of love (presents).

Against:

As the roses stay propped at the front of the Tesco’s checkout and the overpriced chocolates lie in the window of Hotel Chocolat, each year forces more and more pressure to spend something on a partner. And even if you’ve pledged not to spend anything, or to spend a small amount, the pressure from the commercial market hangs over us.

Retail spending in the UK is predicted to reach £855m, up almost a quarter since 2017. It’s a haven for businesses: restaurants, florists and supermarkets and us consumers are suckers for the Valentine’s Day industry. Moonpig even promote cards ‘from the Dog’ … WTF?

Even though I’m in a relationship, I find the day perpetuates the sickly idea of a need to spend money in order to express love, often on things we can’t afford.

Spending money for Valentine’s Day isn’t really mine and my partner’s thing, if you haven’t already noticed. In fact, we’re spending someone else’s money this year, from a Christmas present, with a voucher for Bills.

In the midst of a climate emergency, it’s impossible not to mention all the presents that will create more plastic waste and eventually more rubbish that will inevitably end up in landfill.

Valentine’s Day is a day to be left almost ignored. Tell your partner you love them, and treat them well every day. And if you’re single – do what you do every single day: save your money and enjoy star fishing on your bed.

(By Emily Redman)

For:

I’ve recently come out of a long term relationship. So it could be expected that I’d have some animosity towards Valentine’s Day and all of the rose covered chocolates that it holds.

But as usual I have the opposite view to Emily – I think Valentine’s is a time to be celebrated.

I sent my first Valentine’s card in year seven – it was tragically anonymous and amounted to nothing. But you win some you lose some, I picked myself up and haven’t looked back since. (Sarcasm obviously).

My first proper Valentine’s was last year. We used it to do all of the things we loved doing, went for a long walk, I cooked pasta (domestic God), watched films and ordered a Chinese takeaway. It was a day to just be together and enjoy each other’s company – it didn’t need to be plastered all over social media or kicked off with roses on the bed.

The prominence of commercial products for couples has taken away from the true meaning of Valentine’s, granted, but they’re not a necessity. With more and more cynicism directed towards the day, use it instead to appreciate all of the things and people you love in your life.

If you’re single and slightly resenting the thought of seeing loved-up Instagram posts, focus instead on your favourite friendships and remind them how much they mean to you. Or visit your family and spend quality time with them. Or the gym – either will help.

(By Billy Stone)

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