Some of the best holidays of the year fall in January and February. In January alone there is New Year’s Day, a time for self-reflection and optimism, as well as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which celebrates the life of a great civil rights leader. Not to be outdone, February has Superbowl Sunday, Groundhog Day, and the Chinese New Year. Then unfortunately comes a holiday that I would rank strictly worse than Tax day; Valentine’s Day. In my opinion, Valentine’s day stops being a good holiday when you stop celebrating it by exchanging little foil/paper stock cards with sweets taped to them with everyone in your classes. After that, the holiday becomes either; a mildly depressing reminder that you are single or an attempt to capitalize on the love between you and your significant other.
As someone who spent the majority of high school, and middle school for that matter, single, Valentine’s day was always a dreaded holiday. When you are single, you have one of two options for the holiday, go the whole day with the fact that you are single being made more obvious by the happy couples you encounter or make a big romantic gesture and confess an unrequited love. Despite numerous ‘holiday’ movies being made about it each year claiming that it’s the better of the two, the second option never lives up to how it’s portrayed. There is all the planning that goes into figuring out when, where, and how you will make your declaration, the nervousness that you have to overcome to follow through, and for all that effort if you are lucky you’ll have the valentine of your choice. Great, excellent, perfect, but now what? Most likely the events to follow are one, or two if you’re lucky, dates until valentine’s day is far in the rearview. So if you are single and willing to put up a herculean effort, then the most likely positive outcome of the holiday is that you get to change your relationship status for the next two weeks. If your declaration doesn’t go that well, you may simply get turned down, or, worse yet, you may hear those 5 little words that will really ruin the day, “You’re such a sweet friend”.
I was lucky enough to find a wonderful girlfriend, and then Valentine’s Day became disappointing in other ways. The biggest reason for this is it’s become so capitalistic. The modern holiday is built around spending so much money on the person you love, especially on fleeting gifts like chocolate, cut flowers, balloons, a fancy dinner, etc. Why should you have to spend so much money to prove that you love someone? If you think about it, some of the most fundamental aspects of the holiday have as much to do about spending money on your significant other as they do about loving them. Sending flowers to them or the big heart-shaped box of chocolate comes to mind. If you’re a broke college student, there isn’t a lot you can do in this regard, not to mention the fact that now the romantic dinner out isn’t very practical. No matter how happy you are in your relationship every other day of the year, on Valentine’s day, it seems the best metric of how much you love your partner is how much you are willing to spend on them. This leads to the second reason why I dislike this particular holiday. Valentine’s day takes things that should be part of every day, like love and time spent with your significant other, or spontaneous, like romantic gestures and physical intimacy, and allocates it to one specific day. These things should be a regular part of a healthy relationship, not once a year on a holiday. Arbitrarily establishing a day where you are incentivized to step it up a notch or be compared to everyone else is absurd.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so if you love Valentine’s Day, more power to you. Personally, between the bad memories of the holiday when I was single, the money-centered nature of the modern holiday, and forcing what should come naturally in a relationship to happen on a random day, I’d rather have a second groundhog’s day in February.