Lifestyle Feature

We Should Ditch Valentine's Day

picture courtesy of www.beautysouthafrica.com
Olivia Katbi
Let me be clear: I’m not over here angrily hammering at my keyboard, seething and bitter because I’m single and will have to fly solo this February 14th. Anyone who knows me personally knows I’m not that type. In fact, I’m extremely relieved I won’t be forced to participate in this abhorrent yet ubiquitous so-called “holiday” this year. I have a lot of pity for my own Ghosts of Boyfriends Past, because I’m shitty at faking anything, and being enthusiastic about Valentine’s Day definitely makes the top five on the list of Things I’ve Faked Poorly.

But before I delve into reasons as to why this day sucks and should be whole-heartedly abandoned, let’s backtrack for a brief history lesson. Valentine’s Day is the feast day of the Roman saint Bishop Valentine (which may actually be two or three people, depending on which sect of Christianity you subscribe to and/or how you interpret the chronology). Bishop Valentine lived around 270 A.D. and supposedly restored a blind girl’s sight before being imprisoned for his faith; he was later beaten with clubs and horrifically tortured before being decapitated on – you guessed it – February 14th.

Yo, this is some gruesome shit. You can Wikipedia it if you don’t believe me. So why, approximately 1,740 years later, are couples celebrating it by exchanging tawdry stuffed animals and candy hearts that taste like sugary chalk? (Or rather--if you’re single--lamenting it with a box of Franzia while you drunk text your ex on your tear-stained iPhone 5?)
I remember hearing some story a while ago about how St. Valentine was a hopeless romantic and married people in secret when it was forbidden. According to studies done by Jack Oruch, a professor at Kansas University, that story is actually a bunch of BS. Celebrating the feast day of St. Valentine in this sentimental, gooey way wasn’t really a thing until Chaucer started writing about it; its supposed historical origins were perpetuated by 18th century scholars, and modern society just ran with it.

Made-up holidays for appreciation purposes aren’t anything new (i.e. Mother’s and Father’s Day) but they’re becoming increasingly misguided and overblown, and Valentine’s Day takes the cake. Starting a few years out of the womb, you’re taught to put little cards in each other’s pre-school cubbies, which is cute, but then you start being expected to give and receive something clever and adorable every year, until it escalates out of control and you find yourself at age 20 in a huge fight with your boyfriend because you didn’t seem very excited about flowers or sleeping on the couch at age 30 because your wife is pissed that you forgot the day completely.

I’m no Dr. Phil here, but I feel like the key to a successful relationship probably isn’t reserving one day out of the entire year to appreciate each other. That’s like saying, “Hey, the rest of the year I am an emotionless drone with zero warm feelings towards you but since today is Valentine’s Day, here.” It’s so forced and you know you’re only doing it because you’ll get shit for it if you don’t, which is kind of the opposite of romantic. If you’re really into romance, wouldn’t it be more romantic for you to do nice things for each other randomly? Surprise each other with breakfast or flowers or candy when it’s actually a surprise. Tell each other about how you feel in the heat of the moment, when it comes naturally and probably means a lot more.

I know I’m not alone in that I’ve spent more than one February 12th frantically rushing around, trying to find something ingeniously cute and original to do or to give or to say on the 14th, this one specific day out of all the days of the year, and it usually ends up being somehow inconvenient for someone’s class or work schedule and February is a super grey and depressing month in general and you know there’s a huge chance one of you is going to forget about it anyway and then someone’s feelings end up being hurt or someone is disappointed or worried that the other person didn’t like their gift or what if you made a pact not to get each other anything but then someone does anyway or what if it’s a new relationship or you’re not really sure where it’s headed yet and it’s just really awkward all around? See! Look how stressed I am about it! It’s making me panicky and I’m not even in a relationship, you guys.

And because I’m not in a relationship, people are going to wonder what’s wrong with me if I’m completely happy about not being in a relationship. There is this brain-meltingly stupid cultural belief that I think especially affects females that if you’re alone you should be depressed, and you better be absolutely torn up about it on February 14th because you will never hear the end of everyone else’s misery from all the single people around you, because this evil, consumerist holiday has turned us into self-loathing, needy monsters (the movie Valentine’s Day, anyone?). There is just something seriously wrong with how much this one day holds such a prominent undertone of self-validation and completeness.

Your self-worth should not be affected by whether or not you have plans for Valentine’s Day, and if that is something on which you truly place importance, I think you need to take a long hard look at where your priorities lie. My plea to you is to Woman (or Man) The Fuck Up. Wipe your sniveling noses and remember that you can buy yourself chocolates any day you damn well please. You can send your ex sad faces and broken heart emojis any random night you get shit-faced (not that I recommend it). And instead of buying into Valentine’s Day, you can show the person you love that you appreciate them often, not just once a year.