For the first 29 Valentine’s Days of my existence, I was single. For the last three years, however, I have been involved in a loving, committed relationship, and as a result, my views on the holiday have not changed one bit. Valentine’s Day is stupid.
Valentine’s Day makes the unattached feel more excluded and more depressed than a Jewish kid on Christmas. Couples already have plenty of opportunities to show their love for each other, such as anniversaries (of their first date, engagement day, wedding day), birthdays, or simply any night they can find a babysitter. Where are the days set aside to celebrate singledom? Bachelor and bachelorette parties come the closest, but the honoree is always someone who’s already in a relationship. A whole separate holiday to make the single people of the world feel worse about themselves is utterly uncalled for.
So, why do we still celebrate it? Why, crass commercialism, of course. In America, Valentine’s Day is the second biggest consumer holiday, behind Christmas. It’s a major boon for the chocolate, flowers, jewelry, wine, and greeting cards industries.1 After all, why should we go to the trouble to come up with personalized ways to show our love and appreciation, when Wal-Mart can do that for us? Expensive restaurants will be packed tonight, romantic comedies will be screened in theaters and living rooms across the country, and cats and dogs will find extra-scrumptious treats in their food bowls.2
If you are part of a couple, instead of celebrating Valentine’s Day with your wallet, follow your heart. Make something with your own two hands. Do something (clean the house, cook dinner) that shows how much you care. Or better yet, ignore Valentine’s Day entirely. Celebrate the Chinese New Year, which starts today.3 Celebrate the Winter Olympics. Celebrate Lincoln and Washington.
But whatever you do, don’t buy crap just because some animated Cupid told you to. Well, unless he’s a Chinese Olympian named Abe.
1 Not to mention – thanks to the slew of women who don’t know what to get for their boyfriends/husbands – the makers of Call of Duty 2: Modern Warfare.
2 Conversely, the anti-Valentine’s Day crowd will also give a boost to chocolatiers, liquor stores, and the makers of Prozac.
3 Interesting fact: During the last Year of the Tiger, in 1998, Mr. Woods (who is 1/4 Chinese) only won 1 PGA tournament, tied for his lowest total in any year.