February 14th is the ‘most romantic day of the year’. Supermarkets prepare for mass sales of their most expensive chocolates, wines and roses. High-end restaurants prepare to empty customer’s wallets in exchange for delicious, yet minuscule portions of food. Jewellery shops prepare for their busiest day of the year. All the while you start to wonder, “What will I do this Valentine’s Day?”
In Brighton, there are plenty of special Valentine’s Day speed dating events to find singletons a match before the big day. If you are single you may feel you suffer the most on this dreaded date, planning instead to spend the night sadly sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of ice cream. You may even think it’s a good idea to speed date in order not to spend the day alone. However in reality, the single ones are the lucky ones. The pressure on couples is higher than ever before, more so than the feeling of having to do something extravagant on New Year’s Eve.
Valentine’s Day in the 21st century involves participating in a globalised ritual. This consists of bringing home a card, flowers and chocolates, followed by an overly expensive meal and then finish the night at a fancy hotel. Only to wake up with not just a hangover, but an empty wallet and increased expectations for the following year. A day meant to convey love and kindness to your partner has been twisted into a corporate feeding frenzy.
It’s not just the usual goods commonly associated with Valentine’s Day that have a sales increase on and around this day. Also, condoms and pregnancy tests (a few weeks after) see a significant rise in trade. Yep, the desire to have sex increases as well – apparently. However, you will be happy to know that the 14 Feb is not the only day each year that you can buy your partner or crush something special, eat well, or even have sex?! These gestures are available throughout the year and do not need to be received and given on a certain day. Despite what your calendar may tell you.
It would be unfair to draw comparisons between Valentine’s Day and Christmas. The latter has an established backstory, whereas there is no set story behind Valentine’s Day. Despite the common interpretation that the day has been named after Saint Valentine, the Roman Saint of courtly love, this has more plot holes than a B-movie. There are many arguments that there are in fact two Saint Valentines’ which contribute to the story. There are also many interpretations that suggest medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer invented the day, combining courtly love with Saint Valentine in his poem [Parlement of Foules]. Before this poem there is no evidence that 14 Feb was a celebration of love. So why do we celebrate it?
As much as Valentine’s Day is a ‘fake holiday’, it’s the chance to splash out on your partner, and sprinkle them with gifts – a month and 20 days after you did at Christmas. For long-term couples who do not get to spend that much time together, the day could be rewarding. So by all means, if it makes you happy have a civilised meal at a casino, followed by a night at a hotel. However, if you have recently asked a girl to “be your Valentine” then it is probably best to shy away from the overpriced temptations available this month. You would be more likely to stand out if you did not follow the stereotypical Valentine’s Day ritual. You can also celebrate your singularity at one of Brighton’s clubs with a bunch of other people in the same boat!
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!