Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap. Dubbed as the “Hallmark holiday,” anti-Valentine’s day activists (yes, there are such a thing) say that the hoopla surrounding February 14th is merely a product of mass marketing efforts from commercialized businesses and the propensity of consumer culture to buy into it every year. The large profits made from the mass buying of cards, chocolates, flowers, balloons and stuffed animals detract from the true meaning and significance of Valentine’s Day, which is the annual celebration of “love and affection between intimate companions,” (according to Wikipedia.com). Haters also point out that Valentine’s Day is a forced observation of romantic love, when no such tradition exists for those that are single.
But look into the historical origins of Valentine’s Day, and its real connection to the celebration of love, romance or companions remain a bit murky. In the earliest ontological records, Saint Valentine was a man who was brutally executed for his religious beliefs by a Roman pagan Emperor. Oh, but wait. He also performed a miracle by healing the blind daughter of his persecutor before his execution.
Hmmm. So maybe eschewing commercialism in the spirit of preserving the “true origins” of this holiday isn’t exactly right either.
Being a sucker for ALL holidays (hello, Martin Luther King’s day!), I particularly enjoy this day of Hallmark penned sentiments, over-priced roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. Long before I appreciated the holiday as a romantic one, I still broke out the red turtleneck sweater to wear to school, spent the afternoon poring over my homemade cards and ate spaghetti with red sauce for dinner with my family. The day wasn’t about mass consumption, or focusing on a romantic partner or lack thereof, or even about the martyrdom of that Saint who was executed thousands of years ago. It was simply about the excitement of being loved and having love to give; the positive imagery of red hearts and white lace; the sweet respite of eating chocolate throughout the day; and the appreciation of my family as we all happily ate our “red-themed” meal.
So whether you’re a V-day hater or enthusiast; single or attached; avid consumer or anti-commercialism, be happy today solely for the fact that you are loved and have love to give. And what’s so bad about a holiday that reminds us of that? Here is a neat photo slide show by the Wall Street Journal that depicts Valentine’s Day across Asia, illustrating that today’s celebration of love transcends cultures, traditions and religions. The Pakistani balloon vendor is my favourite.
As for me: my Valentine and I will be heading to Pulau Macan this weekend for a tropical getaway. Located only an hour and half away from Jakarta (via speedboat), the tiny island offers an eco-friendly resort and spa, with plenty of snorkelling, boating and hammock napping to boot. Check the video below.