If slushy cards, teddies and supermarket flowers don’t turn your stomach, maybe scoffing a whole box of chocolates will. And even if 14 February isn’t bad for your health, there’s a good chance it will hurt your wallet…
Valentine’s Day is probably the most divisive ‘celebration’ of the year. Even the most mean-spirited Scrooges end up entering the Christmas spirit – and who would dare trash Mother’s Day, or turn their nose up at Easter?
Yet 14 February separates the romantics from the cynics, the slushy from the sassy and the sweet from the ‘so what?’
Some people see it as an excuse to show a loved one they care, and arguably this is admirable. Others view Valentine’s Day as a commercial ploy, designed only to convince us that £5 is a reasonable price to pay for a greetings card with a pink kitten on it.
For the Valentine’s Day sceptic, all the hoo-ha that erupts on 14 February reeks of insincerity. If your partner isn’t worthy of particular attention at any other point during the year, why pull out all the stops just because the advertising industry has told you to?
What’s the price of love?
On previous V-Days when a boyfriend has seen fit to pull out all the stops for me, I’ve actually found it rather embarrassing. Overblown declarations of adoration, dozens of roses and truckloads of chocolates just make me feel tense. What is the correct reaction (apart from saying thanks, of course)?
But it seems many of us expect, and enjoy, traditional grand gestures on 14 February. According to Virgin Atlantic, over 15 tonnes of roses from Kenya have hit UK shores in the past week. That’s a 44% rise on the same period last year despite stubborn inflation, looming public spending cuts and mass concern about our economy.
Meanwhile, if you choose to you could splash up to £50 on a box of chocolates at your local Thornton’s – or even more if you go the whole hog and buy your beloved a Valentine’s Day fragrance, some jewellery or an item of clothing.
One size won’t fit all
Whether such gifts are seen as shallow and thoughtless, or sweet and meaningful, depends on the recipient. Given to the right person, a classic pressie will definitely win you undying affection.
But the key is to know your audience on Valentine’s Day, and that involves making the kind of effort that’s got nothing to do with digging deep into your wallet.
Personally, I like peonies better than roses, I’ve never been able to stomach cards with poems inside them and – if I’m going to get a gift this Valentine’s Day – I’d prefer it to be something that reflects my taste, not everyone else’s.
And if I end up with nothing, I guess that doesn’t matter: I’ve effectively asked to be ignored today by stating there’s nothing special about it. But…
In the immortal words of the poet Liz Lochhead: ‘I wouldn’t thank you for a Valentine… I’d melt.’ Perhaps V-Day gets to us all in the end.
Dear fiancé, if you’re reading this: best stop off and pick up something pretty before we meet for that intimate dinner tonight.