I don’t know many people in my feminist circles who are pro Valentine’s Day. Even those people in relationships tend to eschew the day as commercial and unnecessary. “Why not just show the person you love them EVERY day?” is a refrain I hear fairly often in criticisms of Valentine’s Day. “Why do you need a specific day to remind you to celebrate someone you love?”
Well friends…I love Valentine’s Day. I love spending a month or two months in advance planning an elaborate gift or activity for the day. I love figuring out exactly what will make my partner’s eyes light up and make them break out into a huge-ass smile. I like giving gifts because they show I’ve been thinking about someone. I like hand making cards, as that’s what my family has always done. I like writing nice messages to people I care about.
And yes, I could do all of these things any other day of the year. In fact I do a lot of these things on an average day. I get a disturbing amount of joy from writing a friend a happy message on Facebook telling them that I’ve been thinking about them and I love them. I come up with excuses to pamper my boyfriend whenever possible. I frickin’ love showing how much I love people (I feel a little too hard sometimes). I know I’m not the only person out there who feels this way, and I’m even fairly certain that some of the people who hate on V-day are people who like to do these kinds of things the rest of the year.
Unfortunately, it’s not generally considered socially acceptable to randomly gift someone something that you’ve spent three months working on, or that costs above about $20. Sometimes I want to do those things. The little stuff is great and I love doing it, but when am I going to be able to get my SO that fairly expensive gift that I just know he’d love and won’t get for himself?
The answer is of course Valentine’s Day. For me, the Hallmark Holiday is an excuse. It’s an excuse that lets me do all the things I want to do anyway. It gives me a socially sanctioned time to go a little bit overboard, which is great for someone who is a chronic overachiever. It can be overwhelming or feel like pressure if someone does an incredibly nice thing for you out of the blue. But when someone treats you on your birthday or Christmas or Valentine’s Day? It makes sense. It’s socially sanctioned. It no longer feels like your sweetie has suddenly become an obsessed stalker. It takes some of the pressure off the individuals.
And yeah, maybe it’s a little selfish. I like having a day where I can expect a little back, since not everyone is as excited as I am about gift giving and caretaking.
Human beings like rituals and calendars and schedules and markers. We have birthdays as a special day to celebrate a particular person and mark the passing of time. We celebrate anniversaries as part of recognizing the beginning of things. I don’t entirely understand why having a particular day to celebrate the people you love is much different. It’s part of having those reminders to cement bonds and create rituals that illustrate to others where our values are.
Of course no one has to partake in holidays, rituals, or celebrations that don’t feel meaningful to them. But there’s nothing about picking a certain day and using it to make a big deal out of things you care about that makes you a corporate sell out or overly invested in material things. It’s possible to celebrate Valentine’s Day in a shallow way, with hearts and flowers and nothing that you actually enjoy. But it’s also possible to celebrate it by cooking a meal together, watching your favorite show, playing music together, and creating gifts that both parties care about.
Yeah. I love Valentine’s Day.