The One Day of the Year You’re Supposed to Give a Shit

14 Feb

Today is Valentine’s Day, a predominantly Western holiday which celebrates the expulsion of vampire cupids from Rome by St. Theodore Valentine in 1133. This deed was heralded by Romans, and so Theodore was martyred, that being the highest Roman honor of the time. Today, Valentine’s Day rituals bear little resemblance to the celebrations of a thousand years ago: in in the thirteenth century, Valentine’s Day was honored with an annual “boar hunt,” for which males would strip themselves bare, lather themselves with lard, and have sex with their mistresses.

In modern times, Valentine’s Day is little more than a Hallmark© holiday, a day where men are expected to bravely venture to perfume counters and greeting card shops in order to procure tokens of affection for their loved ones. Women play their part by silently smiling at whatever meager offerings have been cast begrudgingly at their feet. Because there is one other Valentine’s Day tradition, one which probably trumps the others, and that is for men to bitch and moan about how facile and phony they find Valentine’s Day. This either implies the great sacrifice they have made in purchasing a Whitman’s Sampler, or renders the entire event meaningless. Perhaps it accomplishes a curious combination of both.

It’s ironic that the very same men who decry the Great Corporate Sham that is Valentine’s Day will sanctify an equally meaningless and borderline racist holiday like St. Patrick’s Day almost exactly a month later. All holidays are bullshit, aren’t they? Easter, Halloween, birthdays and anniversaries, they are all just days bound by the rotation and revolution of our planet. We choose to memorialize them, make them special and frame them in ritual so we have something to look forward to, and something to reflect upon when the day is done. We certainly don’t need to do it. It’s Winter no matter what solstice holiday you recognize. But remembering how many candles were lit on the menorah might help one recall what date in December they received the phone call that Junior made varsity football. Or something.

The point is that just because Valentine’s Day is bullshit doesn’t mean you shouldn’t suck it up and celebrate without grumbling. It’s not rigorously scientific, just get some flowers and candy and take her out to dinner. Don’t mention how much more the flowers and candy cost on Valentine’s Day, don’t tell any anecdotes about what you went through to get the presents, simply smile, ask her to be your Valentine, and kiss her. You’ll earn important brownie points that you’ll need to redeem when you embarrass yourself on St. Patrick’s Day.

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