Guess who loves you today?
The same person who loves you every other day,
But today you get a card.
Hallmark Card (spotted in a newsagent)
We all know what day this is. That one day on the calendar that either makes people swoon, shrug with indifference or have feelings of dread and loathing. You guessed it.
Valentine’s Day creates a lot of pressure on the love front. A lot of people celebrate it and just as many don’t. Since I was single for a long time, I adjusted to several years without a partner on Valentine’s Day. When I was married, we always acknowledged it.
Then I was single. I’ve had non-romantic Valentine’s Days ever since, and I have to say I’m perfectly fine with that!
Valentine’s Day actually has roots in paganism, and Christianity, and was celebrated amongst the ancient Romans. It became quite romantic in Europe during the middle ages. Shakespeare and Chaucer waxed lyrical about it and smitten people gave hand written notes to those they admired and adored. In the days when courtship was so conservative, this was no doubt a brave and lovely token of one’s affections.
In 1913, Hallmark Cards, in an incredible act of marketing, started printing the first Valentine’s Day cards, spreading the love and the commercial viability around the world. Valentine’s Day has never been the same since! It’s easy to see why a day like Valentine’s Day would become so commercial. It feeds the very human need for people to be affirmed, to be loved. What I’ve learnt along the journey is that flowers don’t confirm someone’s feelings for you. When you care about yourself enough, the need to be publicly recognised as the love of someone’s life is less important. The private affirmation of feelings matters so much more. (Oh, how the Good Girl has grown up!).
I’m actually in a relationship with the inner city Producer. People have asked me what’s happening on the big V day. He’s just not into Valentine’s Day.
This week the Producer cooked for me for the first time since I’ve known him. I have to say that I was really touched by it – and as it turns out he knows his way around the kitchen! It was, for me, a romantic gesture that meant more than a valentine’s card.
I’m not a cynical ex-Valentiner either! I think any day that promotes love and affection in this crazy world of social media fuelled vitriol and global negativity isn’t a bad thing. I’m not talking about the cheesy cards and the obligatory red roses. If you love Valentine’s Day, I don’t begrudge anyone that, but some seem to go a little loopy on this day of Cupid and roses.
Valentine’s Day sees blokey men writing poetry and guarded hipsters walking down the street in possession of flowers and heart-holding teddy bears. I’ve seen male friends who scoff at the notion suddenly rushing out to buy flowers at the last-minute for their paramour.
So what’s it all about, this notion of Valentine’s Day? Love it or loathe it, the big V day means big dollars for a lot of businesses, both large and small and most definitely boosts the economy.
According to IBIS World, Australians will shell out $791.4 million on cards, flowers and gifts this Valentine’s Day. They predict that $68.2 million will be spent on gifts of lingerie and intimate apparel, and a crazy $14.6 million on cards. Holy Smoke, Batman! That’s a lot of paid-for sentiment! Florist shops live for Valentine’s Day. They take orders for red roses for weeks in advance and bring in as many as they can for those that leave it to the last-minute. I spoke to a florist at South Melbourne market this week who said that red roses are always the most popular flowers, followed by pink roses for this occasion.
I for one think perhaps we should go back to the early European tradition. A hand written note filled with heart-felt words would bring some meaning back to a day which has sadly become massively commercialised.
On this Valentine’s Day, I wish you all lots of warm, fuzzy love – whether you’re single or loved up, in a relationship or not. As for me? I’ll probably soak in a warm bubble bath with a glass of wine and a good book, and look forward to seeing my man on the many other days of the year I spend with him.
On one of those days, perhaps I’ll slip him a handwritten note. You never can tell!