As a child Valentine’s Day was a non issue. I was least bothered by it and only became aware of its existence when I was about 16. Even then I didn’t care to find out what happens on that day. Then I turned 18 exactly seven days before Valentine’s Day and watched a documentary that talked about its history and linked its origin to fertility festivals in ancient Rome where young women instead of being gifted with candy or flowers as is the practice today, were whipped with strips of animal hide in a bid to increase their fertility.
Centuries later, Christians celebrated Valentine, a priest who secretly performed marriage ceremonies for soldiers; a practice that was greatly forbidden. By the 1400’s Valentine’s Day was well established in England. Its emphasis was on insignificant rituals such as drawing names out of a bowl to discover the identity of one’s true love. Nevertheless, I realized that perhaps there was more to this day than met my eye; so I embarked on a journey of self discovery.
The following day I asked some friends who had more experience in the dating department what they thought of Valentines and what their plans were for the Day. They didn’t have a clue, though one of them commented that it was overrated. I didn’t know what that meant and felt like I was talking to the wrong people.
So I waited for Valentine’s Day to see if perhaps my folks who were older and wiser and would be more familiar with the concept would do anything extraordinary. Not surprising, on the evening of the D-day my dad sat in front of the TV watching “Football made in Germany” and drinking beer while mum toiled in the kitchen as usual preparing family dinner.
I concluded right then that if my parents had no time to “celebrate” then in fact perhaps Valentine’s was just a normal day.
Six years later, my quest forgotten and a week to Valentine’s Day, there was the usual flurry that surrounds the day. For 45 minutes I sat listening to my classmates in French class share their opinions, beliefs, experiences and expectations of what should or should not happen on Valentine’s Day. It was quite amusing really because the word “overrated”, “hyped up” and “commercialized” kept emerging throughout the discussion. Then the teacher asked me to share my thoughts of which I politely declined in broken French explaining that I had no idea as I had never had a Valentines date and jokingly added that I would give an arm to understand what overrated really meant.
Everyone chuckled, perhaps in pity or understanding. I don’t know. But as I left class that day it hit me that perhaps everyone was taking this day way too seriously.
You see there is nothing wrong with having a little fun. And I believe Valentines is meant to be fun, at least for those who have been waiting all year to tell that girl or boy who would never have given you more than a bird’s eye view that you’re into them; and do so in a special way. I think it’s just a day for two people who do love each other to say just that. There is nothing wrong with that. True: love should be expressed every day. But it’s not, nor do we live in utopia.
My point is, nowhere does it say that you must buy someone this or that or stand to face eternal damnation if you don’t. So what if Valentine’s has been commercialized? It just goes to show that businessmen are smart people. By working so hard to dismiss it you just may be adding more relevance to it and placing unnecessary undue pressure on yourself and others. Let’s stop being so serious and just have fun.