Valentine’s Day is destroying romance. It’s hard for me to pick a Western holiday I hate more.
Here’s some quick background information on Valentine’s Day. According to legend, there was a priest named Valentine who ran around Ancient Rome marrying soldiers to persecuted Christians, for which he was executed. There were actually a couple of Valentines that were martyred around AD 500 (two centuries after Roman Christian Persecution ended), and they and the holiday in their honor would not be associated with romantic love and courtship until The Inventor of Words, Gefforey Chaucer, in the last 14th century (i.e. 900 years later).
It’s not that I don’t like holidays or that I get my panties in a twist over the fact that Valentine’s, like Christmas, is a global Christian holiday copied from pagan tradition now celebrated by more non-Christians than Christians. No, those may be things others care about, but not me! I find that kind of stuff ironic and funny. My issue strikes to the core of that idea, though: the romantic angle.
Romance – noun – a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love
Let’s play a game. I’ll say something, then I’ll guess your answers (highlight to see my guesses).
What is a normal Valentine’s Day date?
“Dinner and ummm”?
What is a normal Valentine’s Day gift?
“Jewelry, flowers, candy, ummm”?
So, tell me, how excited are you about that? Are you feelin’ the mystery? Is this really what we are left defining as “modern romance”? Of course, if you’re shopping for the most expensive watch ever, we can class your gift as exciting, but if you’re just gifting your other half a box of chocolate and some flowers and expecting them to be over the moon, you need to get your priorities straight.
Think about the implications this has for romance, as an actual thing! Think about what it says about our entire society. Chaucer lived in a time where romance was real: exciting and mysterious. We’ve gone from courting a woman in a chastity belt to buying women rocks that make their panties drop. That’s what we’ve done to romance.
And it gets worse! Valentine’s Day, itself, is the problem: it’s not simply our overall romantic issues. You might not have given the exact same answers to the above questions that I guessed, but I think even if you’re the Romantic in the Rough you believe yourself to be, you should agree with me that romance – especially on Valentine’s Day – is so cliche that it is depressing.
Valentine’s Day is the opposite of romance. There’s rarely surprise. There’s rarely excitement. There’s rarely mystery. It is literally one day a year, on a calendar, that tells everyone, “OK, today is the day you need to pretend to be romantic.”
So the same inconsiderate douchebags who couldn’t string an original romantic idea together if their life depended on it can still get to hold onto their “Good Boy Card” as long as they make absolute minimal effort on Valentine’s Day and do what’s expected (i.e. the opposite of romance). That’s what’s come to be expected and, what’s funnier, is that many people don’t want romance on Valentine’s Day: they want material goods and a feeling of attention. The illusion has become what’s real.
The fact that we feel the need to socially legislate a holiday to “be romantic” really tells you just how bad we are at it, day-to-day. Buying a girl flowers on Valentine’s Day, in terms of romance, is worthless. It’s excellent to achieve the social norm! It’s certainly what’s expected and will likely make your life easier if you follow. But it’s not romantic, at all.
But the same romantically-void bouquet bought on Valentine’s Day actually has all the romantic power in the world when, at a later date, you notice your girl is having a bad day, so you buy her flowers. It’s surprising, uplifting, shows care, gives attention and affection…but who does that? How have we gotten to the point where romance means being told to buy/do things on a certain day? That’s the new concept of “romance.” Valentine’s Day is destroying romance…or maybe it already has.
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