For: Amber Caul
Those born in the 90’s will remember the Halloween-themed children’s film ‘Hocus Pocus’, and perhaps even recall the little exchange between the principle characters at the beginning of the film – one claiming that Halloween was invented by the candy companies, the other arguing that it’s based on the old Hallows Eve traditions.
With Valentine’s day, it’s a little bit harder to argue that it’s based on ancient customs because ‘St. Valentine’ was a Christian martyr (and we’re not even entirely certain which one at that), who probably wouldn’t approve of us using his name to sell saucy underwear and gorge ourselves on chocolate. Yet almost every holiday listed in the calendar (Christmas, Easter, etc.) is guilty of this escalation of ideas, so the argument that it’s purely for economic gain doesn’t really convince me. I’m much more interested in how it’s come to be understood by the collective mind of society, and let’s face it; for the most part the majority of people in the UK seem to be getting more cynical of “V-Day” by the year.
However, some people will buy into it whole-heartedly. I’ll always remember my grandmother’s tears as she would proudly place yet another flamboyant card from my blushing grandfather on the mantelpiece. Yet as a generation we’ve become rather cocky – these days everyone’s aware of those “brain-washing adverts” and the (wait for it) dangers of “conforming to the masses”. I hear people come out with the same phrases every year: “Why can’t you show your love all year round? I don’t need a box of chocolates to convince me.”
Well… of course. It’s that simple: you don’t. I can only repeat the same argument I use on Mother’s Day: it is a day dedicated to love, and there is no tragedy in that.
In an ideal world, people would have the time to dedicate a few moments of their day to their loved one. Unfortunately, the majority of people live busy, distracting lives that only allows for quiet, often unrecognised feelings. It doesn’t seem such a crime to me that on one particular day millions of people come together to bring their hectic lives to a standstill – and demand that that be done in the name of love.
On a more personal note, considering I’ve just come out of a long term relationship so close to the day in question, you’d think that writing this would be the hardest game of Devil’s Advocate I’ve ever had to play. To be quite honest, I’ve never been one to mourn singleness on Valentine’s Day. After all, I wouldn’t spend a friend’s birthday wishing it were my own. If Valentine’s Day truly belongs to lovers alone, then I shall think of all of the couples I know and wish them happiness.
Besides: don’t need a day to celebrate your love? Well, we don’t really need a Pirate Appreciation Day either, but you don’t see people sporting pistols and eye patches for the other 365 days of the year.
Against: Rachel Hodgson
Valentine’s Day. February 14th. The day that makes couples feel compelled to buy their partners stereotypical gifts of flowers, chocolate and ugly stuffed toys and often leaves single people feeling morose. As Valentine’s Day approaches I can’t help but think that John Paul Young got it wrong: Love is not in the air. It’s in the street, shop windows, advertisements and numerous shopping websites. Being a Barbara Streisand fan myself, I’m of the personal belief that her music should only be played under the correct conditions. I don’t think ‘Woman in Love’ blaring out of the speakers in Clinton Cards on a Tuesday afternoon are said correct conditions. As I venture into various other stores around Swansea as the dreaded day looms closer I start to feel what I imagine Cupid feels when he wakes up after a heavy night out – there really is such a thing as “too much pink”.
I imagine some will think it’s a cliché but I honestly do believe Valentine’s Day is all about consumerism. The emails I receive from various businesses throughout February are highly amusing and only serve to cement my belief that Valentine’s Day is an overrated holiday designed to squeeze as much money out of an impressionable society as possible. HMV advertised ‘Valentine’s Day gifts for the one you love’, Amazon had a ‘special Valentine’s Day promotion’ on Kindles, and PayPal offered me 15% off Valentine’s lingerie and other great offers for [me]. Even the company I have my phone contract with were offering ‘Valentine’s Day specials.’
When you research the origins of Valentine’s Day it’s hard to understand why we even celebrate it in the manner that we do. Valentine’s Day originally marked the day when two Christian martyrs, both named Valentine, were honoured for their services to God and the Church. There are absolutely no romantic elements attached to these two saints. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when Valentine’s Day began to be celebratory day of love. The first recorded romantic association with Valentine’s Day is that of the ‘Parlement of Foules’ in 1382 written by Chaucer.
Realistically, in my opinion, it would make more sense to celebrate St.Dwynwen’s Day as a national holiday. Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers and is celebrated throughout Wales on January 25th. Though to be honest, although she manages to get God to grant her the wish that he meets the hopes and dreams of true lovers, she doesn’t exactly get a happy ending herself. Tormented by the knowledge that her father has arranged to have her married to a man she does not love she rids herself of her memories of the man she truly loves and vows to never marry, and instead devotes her life to God. I don’t know about you, but neither one of these stories stir up fuzzy romantic notions of novelty plush animals and spelling out my love for my partner in chocolate: which is one of the things Thornton’s is offering this year, by the way.
I don’t understand what it is that makes February 14th, for some couples, the day they have to suddenly express to each other how much they care for one another. Some couples I know don’t take the holiday seriously, yet they still buy each other small gifts so as to acknowledge Valentine’s Day, which is a ridiculous notion within itself. Valentine’s Day also puts an un-needed pressure on couples to try and find the ‘perfect gift’ for their partner. It’s a bizarre, and in my opinion, a redundant holiday that I imagine I will continue to mock and treat with disdain for many years yet to come.
What do you reckon? Is Valentine’s Day a reason to celebrate or does the thought of all those cuddly toys and flowers make you want to puke? Let us know, and get involved in the debate!