Valentine’s Day is a Fake Holiday

I love Valentine’s Day. It’s a reminder that even though we have differing cultures and expectations, we can come together in this thing that we all have in common: Love. We can try to get past the problems and remember––even if, in some unfortunate cases, it is only for a short time––that we love each other despite these differences. In the best of times, we love each other in part because of them.

A day set aside to stop and appreciate love. How great is that?

Sadly, almost every year people point out to me that Valentine’s Day is stupid. (Why me? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a magnet for crazy.) They tend to fall into two camps, which I label for purely comic purposes The Fakers and The Sellers.

The Fakers

The argument of The Fakers is that Valentine’s Day is, to quote one of the more vehement: “…stupid, it’s just a made up holiday!” This strikes me as just about the most ridiculous statement ever spoken about holidays.

Of course it’s a made up holiday, dipshit. How the hell else do you think holidays get created? Do they spring up out of the ground? Fall from the sky?

All holidays, are dates set aside by us to consider, honor, worship, or otherwise value something. Even Christmas was not really celebrated until the 4th century, so the “preordained by God” argument I’ve heard is hogwash unless you want to simultaneously accept that God was too busy hanging out with his son for the next 400 years to get around to actually ordaining it.

Making a holiday up doesn’t make it any less real or sacred. In fact, I would argue that Christmas is more sacred precisely because we’ve decided to set it aside. Whether we call it Christmas, Solstice, Hanukkah, or anything else, we don’t celebrate the magic of Midwinter because we have to, we set this time aside and place it differently in our hearts because we want to.

The same is true of any holiday. The Christian Easter is no more or less made up than the Diwali or Ramadan, and none are any more or less valid because they are made up. Any sacred space or sacred time is sacred precisely and only because we deem it sacred.

But let us, for the sake of argument, ignore the fact that a time honoring St. Valentine in the Christian tradition goes back almost as far as Christmas itself and assume, for the moment, that it is purely the fabricated holiday support the international florist and candy industries.

I ask you: What the hell is wrong with that?

Seriously, name one thing wrong with taking one day every year and saying “Hey baby, I love you. Here’s a card and a box of gluten-free, low WeightWatchers™ points carob candies that I think taste like baby shit but that I know you love so much that I couldn’t help buying them for you.”

And yes, I understand the argument that you do this all the time and don’t need the reminder of a made up holiday. I bought my wife flowers every month for a year, I get it.

Are you really going to say “No, screw this! I said I love her last week! I’m not saying that shit again!”

Really?

Okay, Ebenezer. Have fun at midnight.

The Sellers

The sellers are the ones who accept that it’s “not fake,” but complain about the commercialization.

I’ll agree that it it does sometimes seem like Valentine’s Day was fabricated specifically for the manufacturers of gluten-free, low-WeightWatchers™ points carob candy. Even I often get grumpy about the commercialization of holidays–especially Christmas. (And when I say “grumpy,” I mean full-on “standing in a robe, holding a broom and yelling wildly to anyone who’s standing on my lawn” grumpy.)

But there’s a big different between arguing that commercialization is bad because you love something and commercialization devalues the thing. Anyone who’d not celebrate Christmas because it’s commercialized was looking for a reason to avoid celebrating it anyway– hell, “there aren’t enough hamster mazes” would be as good a reason to not celebrate it.

The truth is that it has nothing to do with commercialization. If you did want to celebrate, you would. You’d stop yelling at the kids on your lawn, put down your broom, get dressed, and go caroling. You don’t have to shop at Walmart. You can bake some cookies and sit quietly in front of the fire talking with your family.

If you want that date to be special, you will… ahem… make it special.

This is all true of Valentine’s day. It’s as commercialized as any other holiday (and in America, we don’t do a single fucking thing as well as we do commercialization, so either put the broom down and stop yelling or walk across the border. Seriously, it ain’t gettin’ any better). But it’s also as sacred as any other holiday––in that it’s just as sacred as you want to make it.

Angry at all the stupid heart-shaped boxes of chocolates? Good news! You don’t have to buy them! You can decide how you express yourself. Just because everyone else is buying diamond rings and going to dinner, that doesn’t mean you can’t go on a hike in a public park and picnic on homemade sandwiches (in fact, it’s an arguably more romantic gesture).

Praise Be To Love

We, as humans, have this tendency to mark time. We make up ideas, set aside dates for them, and call them sacred. It is because we call them sacred that they are sacred. The made up holiday is a wonderful thing! Christmas is magical and sacred because we want it to be so. Diwali is magical and sacred because we want it to be so. President’s day is…

…well, the point is that they are all made up holidays. Drawing a line in the sand because this holiday is fabricated means that you will either celebrate no holidays or you are being an unrealistic hypocrite.

Nor does commercialization itself devalue sacredness. We decide as individuals what our actions will be––what we will buy and how we will celebrate. We needn’t conform to the purchasing expectations of a business to express our love.

I love Valentine’s Day. As much as I write notes, send flowers, and buy presents throughout the year, I still like one day specifically for love. It’s like a mini Christmas for red hearts, wine, chocolate, Barry White, and really good sex.

Valentine’s day might just not be your thing. That’s totally cool! We all have the choice to decide what times are sacred to us. During Ramadan I drink just as many gin and tonics during the day as I do during any other day. I have no problem with you not celebrating Valentine’s day just as I have no problem with you not celebrating Diwali.

I do have a problem if you argue with me that it has no value simply because it’s “made up” or “commercialized.”

Unless you don’t celebrate any other holidays either.

And if that’s the case, have fun at Midnight, Ebenezer.

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John Metta

John Metta

An unassuming hobbit who lives in a notebook with a pet fountain pen. Proud member of House Hufflepuff. Music maker, dreamer of dreams. http://johnmetta.com