Honestly, Valentine’s Day mostly just makes me think of school; bright red cards posted through locker doors, a printed limerick inside with “from your secret admirer” scrawled underneath. Strangely, it doesn’t matter how many Valentine’s I experience as an adult, that will always be my first thought when the day is mentioned.
Like with many celebration days, the historical facts surrounding St Valentine are a bit, well... murky. Some legends say he aided in the escape of imprisoned Christians; some say he was a priest who performed outlawed marriage ceremonies amongst Roman soldiers and their lovers; but either way, his feast day has come to be a celebration of love and romance.
From a young age we learn what the day is meant to be - the holiday of love. Happy couples give gifts and celebrate their romance, pining lovers reveal their true feelings to the object of their desire and children use an excess of glitter glue to hand make cards for their classmates, friends or parents.
Whatever the truth or the original sentiment of the day, however, the feast of St Valentine is now either eagerly anticipated or utterly dreaded. There is a great deal of pressure; not exclusively but perhaps primarily on men to ‘bring the romance’, treat their significant other and mostly – remember. This can mean that the day becomes a chore, signs of affection forced and given a deadline. The innocence and true emotion that the holiday once signified gets lost amongst the demands.
It seems for some that the commercialisation of the holiday means that nowadays a simple token of love, a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers isn’t enough. Now we want luxury, 100 long stem roses, diamonds or a trip to Paris. Unfortunately, for most of us, this can only lead to disappointment and whatever high aspirations we have, reality just can’t live up to them.
Perhaps we shouldn’t expect our significant other to be forced into an extravagant gesture of true love on February 14th. Perhaps we should trust them, and us for that matter, to show our love in other ways, large and small, and to do it everyday. After all, doesn’t it mean more when we don’t expect it? When he/she does something just because they care and not because society tells them that today they should?
“Love sought is good, but given unsought, is better.” - Twelfth Night