Why I Dislike Valentine’s Day. Or, Why We Don’t Need Another Love Day

by Kathleen Quiring on February 10, 2010

This is a post was inspired by Opal Elephant’s post, Why the Hate for Valentine’s Day?

black heart

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. Up until this morning, I probably would have told you I’m simply indifferent towards it. I think it’s a completely useless holiday, and I remind Ben every year that he doesn’t have to get me anything for it. He doesn’t usually take much convincing. We usually spend it at home watching a movie together since our friends are usually unavailable due to their private festivities.

But after reading Meg and Matt’s post on the subject and giving it some thought, I realized my feelings towards Valentine’s Day are slightly above complete indifference. I actually rather dislike it. And here’s why.

The last thing in the world we need as a society is an entire day devoted to romance.

See, a lot of people would argue that Valentine’s Day serves to remind us of the value and beauty of romantic love. It’s a day to celebrate couples and remember our sweethearts. Or, if we don’t have a sweetheart, to remind us why we ought to have one: because romance is the most important thing in the world.

That’s the message we get from music, movies, and television, anyway. If you take a listen to the most frequently-played songs out there, or check out all the major blockbusters, and switch on the TV, you will notice that they are almost all about romance. If they’re not specifically about couples hooking up, they have a romantic subplot. They teach us that romantic love conquers all, that love between man and woman is the most powerful love in the world. A man or woman who abandons all for the sake of love is a hero. I don’t even need to list the titles for you, this message is so pervasive.

Dating. Finding our soulmates. Love triangles. Cheating and jealousy. Unrequited love. Passion. Sex. These are what all major stories are about.

Everywhere we look, it’s romance, romance, romance. The central relationship in almost any modern Western story is the heterosexual couple. Only occasionally do we run across a story about the parent-child relationship, or the friend-friend relationship, or the sibling-sibling relationship. (There are probably other important relationship types I am forgetting).

If nothing else, Valentine’s Day is simply redundant.

Yeah, yeah, we know. Love conquers all, blah blah blah. All I need to do is walk down to the nearest video rental store to get the same message retold a thousand different ways.

I’m not saying romance is unimportant. I’m just saying we get enough of it as it is. We don’t need a holiday to put love in the spotlight: it hasn’t left it in the last two centuries!

Please note that I am desperately in love with my husband. I adore him. This is not a rant resulting from jealousy or dissatisfaction with love. I am undeservingly satisfied. I am so grateful for the romantic relationship I share with my Ben, and I thank God every morning and night that he has blessed me with a sweetheart who adores me back. Our relationship is very special and I don’t want to knock romance.

But romantic love is not the most important kind of love out there. I know that a lot of people would agree with me, but we certainly don’t have a day celebrating friendship or charity, two other important kinds of love. The dominant message is that romance beats all. I wouldn’t mind seeing some kind of Friendship Day for a change. Although it would probably just end up being another day for buying stuff.

Because the other problem with Valentine’s Day, of course, is the way we celebrate it: by buying stuff. More specifically, by buying useless crap. Pink stuffed bears, snipped/dying flowers, foil-wrapped confections, manufactured greeting cards. But you can already predict anything else I could possibly say on this subject so I’ll leave it at that. I dislike the commercial aspect of Valentine’s Day more than anything.

So all in all, yeah; I’d say I dislike Valentine’s Day. I will not be celebrating it this year. My husband and I, along with the rest of the Western world, celebrate love all the time.  We don’t need a special holiday to do it.

What do you think? Do you love/hate/feel indifferent about Valentine’s Day? Why?

Photo courtesy of Stuck in Customs

{ 2 trackbacks }

Valentine’s Day « Susieboldt's Blog
February 10, 2010 at 6:02 pm
Why I Love Valentine’s Day (even when everyone else doesn’t)
February 10, 2010 at 8:16 pm

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rosa February 10, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Although I can appreciate your dislike for the commercial aspect of the holiday, I really do love Valentine’s Day. I feel like I just don’t get enough time with my husband between 2 very demanding careers and a toddler who we adore. It’s so nice to have an evening out together that is focused just on our love. Not to mention the opportunity to plan in advance what kinds of creative and fun things we’ll do after our date ;)

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2 Susanne February 10, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Yeah, I’m definitely not into Valentine’s Day. And I, like you, am happily married and love romantic evenings as much as the next girl. But why on earth would we specifically celebrate our love on the day that everyone else is clogging up the restaurants and romantic sites? If I am going to pick a random day to celebrate our love, I wouldn’t pick the same day that every other couple is out. And why the need for a common day to celebrate your relationship when EVERY couple has some kind of anniversary? At least you can avoid the jacked up prices and crammed restaurants if you go celebrate on that day! Plus the last thing I want John spending our money on is useless, tacky pink and red crap…

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3 Kathleen Quiring February 10, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Well-said, dear Susanne! We already have anniversaries to celebrate our love — why make a date when everyone else is celebrating simultaneously and crowding up all the usual date venues? Why didn’t I think of that?

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4 Adventure-Some Matthew February 10, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I view Valentine’s Day as a challenge as I try to come up with ways to celebrate without spending obscene amounts of money (no more than I would for a “normal” date). So my like/dislike changes depending on how well I am doing at that moment.

This year? I’m going to give her a massage and bake a home-made cheesecake. I’ll wait till after the holiday has passed to get her some flowers, “just because.”

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5 Kathleen Quiring February 10, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Those sound like fantastic gifts, Matthew! I applaud them! Even if I’m not crazy about the holiday.

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6 Molly W February 10, 2010 at 3:43 pm

I’ve never been a fan. The only times I’ve ever received anything for Valentines was either from creeps or boyfriends making a “too little too late” attempt at holding on to a relationship. In general it seems to be about one-uping everyone around you than any actual feelings. However that being said, while I don’t expect/demand anything from my Ben at Valentines, I still love giving corney childrens valentines and candy to my friends.

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7 Stephanie Ferguson February 10, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Not sure if I dislike Valentine’s day, but I get your point about romance being omnipresent in western culture. I think this takes the focus away from how much hard and rewarding work relationships actually are…I guess my issue is not with romance, but with how it’s often represented superficially by mass media.

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8 Lori Lowe February 10, 2010 at 6:10 pm

You crack me up–I love how you take sides. My hubby has always refused to participate in the commercial holidays–don’t forget there’s Sweetest Day, too! Like we need another. We also avoid the restaurants on the most crowded day of the year. But I don’t know if Valentine’s Day only celebrates romantic love. I adore the homemade cards from my children, and we always send loving notes to grandparents, aunts and uncles. I do think the holiday makes single people feel worthless, and is aimed at getting people to spend money. We are planning a lovely family dinner at home and maybe cuddle up for a movie. Cheers!
Lori Lowe
http://www.LifeGems4Marriage.com

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9 Meg | Opal Elephant February 10, 2010 at 7:33 pm

haha, thanks for the post Kathleen! It does however, give us the opportunity to disagree with you :) While there are many very important types of love worth celebrating in the world, Valentine’s Day’s existence doesn’t negate any of those other types of love!

Why IS it so bad for romantic love to be celebrated on a national holiday? All the holidays are great- and I’m not talking about all the buying stuff- but Christmas, for instance, is one of the ONLY times the whole year that I get to spend a significant amount of time with all of the people I love in one place, no less.

But nearly every other holiday we have is about family. Valentine’s day, on the other hand, gives couples the PERMISSION to celebrate their love, just them- no kids, no parents, no friends demanding your time… just you and your spouse/partner, and thats okay!

While I am strongly under the belief that part of making a strong relationship is celebrating your love every day, Valentines day is a great opportunity to go the extra mile. And as for celebrating when everyone else is…thats half the fun sometimes! Part of what excites people about Valentines day is the spirit of the thing!

Sorry to type up a storm here- your post just got me excited :) I’m certainly not preaching to anyone about how they should love Valentines day when they have other traditions they love with their partner…i’m just saying don’t knock it for those of us who DO enjoy a little Valentine’s day love :D Thanks Kathleen! ~Meg

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10 Kathleen Quiring February 11, 2010 at 8:32 am

I have to admit, you make a good point here, Meg. While every other holiday is generally celebrated with family, Valentine’s Day is the one holiday you’re allowed to spend with just your sweetie. That’s pretty nice.

And you’re right, celebrating romantic love doesn’t cancel out any of the other kinds of love. I just feel we get inundated with romance every other day as it is, so we don’t really need a special day to celebrate it.

Thanks for your thoughts! I heartily welcome disagreement!

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11 Meg | Opal Elephant February 10, 2010 at 8:17 pm

you inspired another post, by the way :)

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12 Christina February 10, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Dave and I don’t necessarily go out and do something every Valentine’s day, but I’m pretty sure he has at least made some kind of attempt to do something nice for me each year we’ve been together.
That’s what I love about Valentine’s day. For men who aren’t particularly romantic all of the time, Valentine’s day is one day they are. If that means buying me pink and red roses, then I will thank him and be grateful.

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13 Eva February 10, 2010 at 9:27 pm

I LOVE Valentines Day- mostly because it reminds me of elementary school days, when the whole day was devoted to not math, not science, but snacks and fun crafts- so my favourite!
Hubby and I don’t like to make it a big buy-stuff fest. though, so we celebrate Valentines simply.
Just love the nostalgia of Valentines as a child!

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14 Kathleen Quiring February 11, 2010 at 8:48 am

Yeah, I can see what you mean, Eva. A few years back (OK, like 8 years ago) I bought a cheesy, red plastic heart necklace for Valentine’s Day, and thought it was really fun to wear because it reminded me of being in elementary school. I started disliking Valentine’s Day a few years later, and my one regret was that I couldn’t wear my tacky necklace any more. I loved that thing! I have some fond memories of going through all those store-bought Valentines from my classmates . . . it’s kind of sad to let that go!

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15 Dayna February 10, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Very well-said, Kathleen. It’s an excellent point: we’re inundated with romantic love 365 days of the year – do we really need a commercialized extra day to push the point home about how our society idolizes romance over all else? I think that a Friendship Day would be more called for!

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16 Sue February 11, 2010 at 8:38 am

I don’t believe it’s an official holiday, but there is a friendship day sometimetime in August. Come on guys, there’s a day for everything. And technically there are days for charity like the breast cancer month, so there are other days, just none of them are so out there as the Big V-Day.

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17 Eva Q. February 11, 2010 at 11:19 am

Ahh the Valentines day debate! I just don’t see it as ‘special’ if Abe goes and buys me overly priced flowers on a day when the whole world is telling him to do so. I would rather him surprise me with flowers and a Reese’s peanut butter cup chocolate bar on a random day when I need it more :)
And I totally agree with you Kathy, I loath how commercialized it is! If it wasn’t for all the advertisements for kinky underwear, chocolates and “tacky pink and red crap…” I might even take part in the festivities.
Now as to if we’re doing anything specifically for V-day this year…I’m leaving that in Abe’s hands :) He’s not necessarily the most romantic guy out there so if he DOES decide to plan something he’d for sure surprise the socks off of me. And hey, Valentines day or no Valentines day, I’ll take it! Just no $50 roses please, that just doesn’t seem right to me.

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18 Jon@Webloungers February 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm

I REALLY LIKE Valentine’s Day…

Ok, so it also happens to be my birthday… That may have something to do with it! But, it’s sort of a love-hate relationship. I love my birthday, but I hate that it happens to be the same day when restaurants are packed, everything is overpriced, and friends may be off doing their own thing with their significant others. So, as a birthday, I end up having to stay in, and hope that my friends aren’t celebrating Valentine’s Day instead of my birthday!

As for the Valentine’s Day part… Well, it’s just an over-commercialized excuse for retail to make more money. What’s a better marketing strategy than to guilt people into buying ‘more’ and ‘better’ for their loved ones. What? You mean you don’t love your spouse enough to buy buy buy? Shame on you!

In fact, it was so successful that they introduced ‘Sweetest Day’…

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19 Dolli-Mama February 11, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I see where you re coming from, but I love Valentines day. It is probablly because my mom made a big deal out of it when we were growing up. We celebrated on the 15th (day after) and my mom would wake up early and go to the store and buy decorations and candy on discount. Then we would spend the whole day doing things that we “loved” together. For dinner my mom would make something special and light candles.
I still try to do something fun, special and unique for Valentines day every year. Not because society tells me I HAVE to, but because I can.

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20 Kathleen Quiring February 11, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Wow, I like your mom’s idea of Valentine’s Day! That is the kind of celebrating I could really get behind! Your mom, it seems, thought (thinks?) of Valentine’s Day as a family celebration, and her version of it sounds delightful and fun. That’s completely different from the “buy roses for your wife/girlfriend OR ELSE” mentality that normally dominates the day. I can see why you still have a special place in your heart for it!

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21 Newlywed & Unemployed February 11, 2010 at 4:54 pm

I 100% agree that it’s a redundant holiday. It’s not a new message. And the commercialism is the worst part. Worse than Christmas. At least Christmas has a tradition of gift giving right from the start (3 wisemen), but we have moved waaay beyond “tokens of affection” and into Christmas 2.0 – who gives cell phones for Valentine’s Day?

I’d already written a post scheduled to go out today, but after reading this article last night, I quickly edited it with a link to this page. (As well as a couple contrasting views for balance.) http://newlywedandunemployed.blogspot.com/2010/02/i-dont-celebrate-valentines-day.html

You’re certainly not the only one who feels this way!

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22 Raine Saunders February 12, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Hi, love your site! I’m with you, I think Valentine’s Day is really silly and it’s all based on the commercial premise of making money and buying things. Why can’t we focus on our loved ones on any other days of the year (we should be doing this, after all, not just one day out of 365). Because what if you spent a bunch of money wining and dining your significant other or family on this day, but really didn’t put forth much effort the rest of the time?

It seems like a lot of wasted money that could be better spent on something useful – like good healthy food for your family that will keep you from getting sick – and February is still definitely during the flu and cold season when people are getting sick. I’m not saying don’t do something special for someone you love, just don’t wait until the most commercial and expensive day of the year to do it.

Here’s a recipe I created recently that I have on my web site for a homemade treat you can serve to your loved ones that they’ll love, is incredibly delicious and there is absolutely nothing in it that is unhealthy to consume (a healthy dessert? How could it be???). Now that says I LOVE YOU!

http://www.agriculturesociety.com/?p=3276

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23 Kathleen Quiring February 12, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Thanks for your thoughts and for the lovely recipe! I’ll be sure to try it — yum! I love this kind of stuff. I agree that the money spent on roses could be better spent on healthier food. Not everyone would agree with us, though!

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24 Scott February 13, 2010 at 9:43 am

This is a great discussion with many thought-provoking comments. I suppose most people’s opinions are formed out of their personal experience with the holiday, good or bad. For me, I come down squarely on the side of loving it, as does my wife, of course.

You can come ready my additional thoughts on my blog.
http://surrenderedmarriage.blogspot.com/2010/02/many-faces-of-love.html

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25 caron February 14, 2010 at 12:22 pm

I worked as a florist for almost 15 years so that may have something to do with how I feel about Valentine’s Day. First of all, it is the wrong day to buy flowers! The demand is so high that flowers are shipped out even if the quality is low (which it almost always is this time of year, especially for roses) and of course the prices are high. The men who purchased flowers on a weekly or monthly basis or just for the heck of it were the real sweeties. I always felt bad for those guys, because I knew they were paying too much for crappy flowers on Valentine’s Day. Many of the men who ordered just for Valentine’s Day were either doing so because their significant other ordered them to do so, or they were creeps, sending flowers to wives/girlfriends and another woman too. We almost always got two different orders going to two different women. Then the dumb ones would charge the orders to their credit cards, and then the florist is dealing with angry wives/girlfriends for a month afterwards! Don’t even get me started on the stalkers, who leave cryptic notes and the women who receive them call the florist (and the police) in hysterics. Not to pick on just the men, women do these same things. My favorite is when the women deny that they know who the flowers are from to their husbands/boyfriends and then the florist gets the call from the angry man who is in total disbelief of his cheating wife/girlfriend. Then there are the bridezilla’s who decide that getting married on Valentines Day is just so original and that no one else could have possibly thought of it, so why can’t she get all your attention? Valentine’s Day is all about consumerism and commercialism to me. By the way, I married one of my customers. He brought his girlfriend flowers year round, but she never appreciated it. He buys me flowers now, but never on Valentines’s Day!

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26 Kathleen Quiring February 14, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Hah, wow, it sounds like you have had quite the interesting experiences! Oh my goodness! Buying flowers for two women at the same time??? I can’t believe it. Thanks for sharing, Caron!

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27 theBigM February 15, 2010 at 6:31 am

I really dislike valentine’s day with a passion, it’s the biggest commercial excerise going.
I mean Christmas (and even Easter) are over-commercialized, but least you are actually celebrating something and there is genuine meaning behind them (both religous and pagan).
But what are you actually celebrating on valentine’s day? Romance? Love? Why just focus on love in a couple? As you say there are many types of love.
The orginal idea of sending a anonymous card to your sweetheart/object of your desire is quite sweet, but now it has just become a huge commerical juggernaut and that is so UNROMANTIC…

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28 Annalea February 15, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I don’t LOVE V-day, but if Michael completely blew it off, I’d be sad. We definitely never go out on the actual day because it’s just too crazy. And I agree with what another commenter said with regard to it being a day that a busy couple/parents can give themselves permission to set aside just for themselves.

Our day was spent having lunch together at a restaurant on the water watching sail boats come in, a trip to the yarn shop, a walk in Balboa where we found the place we want to vacation this summer, Fashion Island to do a smidge of shopping, then to Whole Foods to pick up some raw orange blossom honey and deep red roses.

The perfect day with the best husband ever!

Inundated with romance everyday? I disagree. I happen to think that we’re inundated with sex everyday and not nearly enough romance. So, setting aside a day to be silly and romantic sounds good to me.

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