Romance to cure the cynical
It seems like more and more people these days are cynical about Valentine’s Day. More than a handful of couples I am friends with are not celebrating the holiday at all. I have heard all of the arguments. I understand that many people believe that it is a fake holiday invented by evil, conspiratorial greeting card companies to pad their profit margins with empty platitudes on paper stock and cheap chocolate. And it does certainly seem like florists try their best to become the plant versions of Wall Street bankers around this time of the year.
But I have a different opinion: Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays.
The origins of Valentine’s Day are actually somewhat amusing. In the late 1700s, a British magazine published a list of generic love poems for people struggling to find ways to express themselves to their significant others. At the same time, Britain began reducing their postage rates, as they taxed the colonies more heavily. In a matter of thirty or so years, the practice of mailing a poem to your lover became standard fare. By the mid-1800s, 1 billion pounds were being spent on sending valentines. From there, Valentine’s Day spread worldwide.
And I am glad that it did. I think what makes a lot of people cynical is that most are not poets, and even if you are captivated by love wholly and completely, not everyone has the words to say to express those feelings. I am one of those people. So what we do is go out to our local Hallmark store, find a meaningful but impersonal card with flowery message and gift it like it was our own. There is not a lot of thought that gets put into that, no matter how many bouquets of roses one wraps around it. Plus, with the busy and hectic schedules we live through, there are just not enough hours in the day to come up with something extravagant. Obviously, the British were just lazy. So, we are starting to understand Valentine’s Day as a day of hollow gestures instead of what it should be.
But our busy schedules are exactly the reason why we should be celebrating Valentine’s Day more intently. Everyone is under-romanced. This is a shame, because I really believe that people are at their best when they are trying to express their love for their significant other. Even the most annoying of people (some might say that I fit into that category) can suddenly become heartfelt. It is inspiring to see how creative people can get, how people pull obscure inside jokes and turn them into expressions of grandeur. And there is no question that everyone enjoys being romanced. Valentine’s Day gives us a golden opportunity, more than perhaps any other holiday, to become that person. If you are taking time out of your day to plan some elaborate gift or adventure for a lover in the middle of July, someone might ask you to put it down in favor of some work deadline. But leading up to Feb. 14, people understand why you are doing what you are doing.
This weekend, it really is worth everyone’s time to put some effort into Valentine’s Day. Not to sound like some freshman Sociology major, but I honestly think that our lives would be much better if we could find a way to open the lines of communication and make sure that our significant others know, maybe just for one day out of all our busy days, that they are still number one. Don’t be cynical. Cards and flowers, they are standard affair so do not skip over the Hallmark store, but this is definitely the perfect time of the year to spend the time to plan something extravagant. Good luck.
Scott Harris is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.