Last year, I took a course in rhetoric. One of our assignments was to write two arguments about one topic, an invective (against) and an encomium (for). My topic was Valentine’s Day. Here is the first argument.
Valentine’s Day is a day of love—or is it a day of disappointment? Talk to any single person, and she will tell you that Valentine’s Day does not bring thoughts of love. Instead, it brings thoughts of despair and questions of desirability. Talk to any coupled person, and he will tell you that Valentine’s Day does not bring romance. Instead, it brings disappointed expectations and deferred gratifications.
Valentine’s Day is built on guilt. It is simply another occasion, falsely deemed a “holiday,” that is created and perpetuated by businesses for the sake of sales. Your partner expects that you will show an appropriate level of appreciation of the qualities you admire. You feel you must purchase a gift or make a grand gesture that approximates your level of admiration. Your guilt at not wanting to let your partner down makes you rush out and make that expensive purchase or grand gesture. And the jewellery stores, chocolate boutiques and flower shops rejoice to the sounds of this cash register sonata.
The Day of Valentine is believed to have begun in the third century. Roman Emperor Claudius outlawed marriage because he believed single men made better soldiers than married men. A Catholic priest named Valentine believed in love and thought this decree was unjust, so he secretly married young couples anyway. Claudius soon discovered Valentine’s crimes and sentenced him to death. The “day of love” was later named after Valentine, whose birthday was supposedly February 14. This lovely story of love, though, is nothing more than an unsubstantiated myth.
If Valentine’s Day was merely a commemoration of a saint who believed in love, that would have been acceptable. Instead the concept has been corrupted. Nowadays, it is a commercial machine with greed at its heart. It cares nothing for romance or love; it cares only for currency and profit.
Valentine’s Day is a disappointment waiting to happen. No matter what you do for your partner, it will never satiate the hunger hiding in her heart. No matter what your partner does for you, it will never satisfy the longing lurking in your soul. Valentine’s Day is a lose-lose situation for every couple—and even more so for the uncoupled, who are guaranteed disappointment because they are alone.
Like the meaning of Christmas, the meaning of Valentine’s Day has been corrupted. When you don’t get what you hoped for on Valentine’s Day, it is like a child waking up on Christmas morning to find that Santa Claus has left coal in your stocking or worse—never stopped by at all.
February 14 is supposed to be a day to look forward to, a day to open your heart and share your feelings with those you love. Instead, it has become a day to dread, a day to open your wallet and buy things for those you love.
Stay tuned tomorrow for “Do you love or loathe Valentine’s Day? Part 2.”
What about you? Do you love or loathe Valentine’s Day? Share your thoughts here.