Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day

This week, seeing as how we can't avoid it -- it is everywhere we look -- we thought we'd discuss Valentine's Day.


Valentine's Day in the USA is one of the biggest days of the year for the Hallmark Company. Apart from the plastic roses, shiny balloons and teddy bears bearing chocolate, Hallmark sells literally millions of cards.

After all, over here, Valentine's Day is not just for the romantic or lustful; people send (signed) cards to family members, teachers, colleagues and neighbours. That's probably five per household right there. School children under the age of about 10 are encouraged to take something for their classmates, which usually involves a piece of candy and a small card. You can even buy multi packs of small Valentine's cards for that purpose. It's almost on a par with Halloween when you look at the crap that comes home from school.

And now we have Sweetheart's Day too. What's that all about?


Sweetheart’s Day? What on earth is going on over there? I had to look it up on Google and I still don’t know what/when/where it is. Good thing, over here, we only have to worry about Valentine’s Day, and not very much, at that.

I recall V-Day in grade school as a lesson in pure agony: being forced to give a card to every girl in your class—even the one who gave you an Indian burn when the teacher wasn’t looking—while hoping in vain for a special note on the card from the achingly pretty girl who sat in the front of the fourth row but never looked your way, even when you shot her in the back of the head with a spit ball. It was almost as bad as the co-ed gym classes where they attempted to teach us to square dance.

No card, no nookie.

I do remember V-Day as something of an occasion throughout my adult years, but after ten years here, it has faded into the background. I tend to think they are going a bit overboard here these days—especially when I see the Ann Summer’s window display (“No soft toys for Valentine’s Day!”)—but I have a feeling, if I were transported from our little Swan Walk mall directly to the half-mile long, two-storey Crossgates Mall in Albany, I would be assaulted by so many red hearts, cutsie teddy bears, roses, chocolates, bottles of pink champagne, slinky nightwear and signs, signs, signs, enticing you to buy, buy, buy that I would be reduced to a jabbering wreak within minutes. Given this, the displays in Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and the town as a whole seem positively timid by comparison.

There also doesn’t appear to be the pressure to buy. Oh, you’ll see the occasional ad on the telly implying that you won’t get laid on V-Day unless you get your wife, girlfriend, mistress, civil partner this particular brand of perfume or chocolates, but there is no real urgency about it.

So, as with most things, the British, for now, seem to be keeping this holiday in its place. Commercialism is creeping in, but you only have to make a trip to the US to see how much worst things can get.

What do you think of V-Day? And, more to the point, what did you get, or wish you had but didn't?

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  1. I went into Tesco the other day and was actually shocked at the amount of Valentines Day stock they had. It was like cupid puked all over the front half of the store.

  2. Paula and I don't "Do" Valentines day anything. Maybe it's a little of me being a Yorkshireman, and Paula being self admitted "tight with a buck" we just cannot see the need to pay out good money for a day that was invented by card manufacturers. we regularly re-afirm our love verbally, mostly on a daily basis, so what possible difference could a card make?

    We do NOT eat out that day either, due to the inflated prices etc and worse.... the person who comes to your table to seel a single rose "for the lady" Grrrrr extortion! They get the sharp edge of my tongue if they try that with me.

    Terrible unromantics aren't we?

  3. Given that my daughter's 18th is also this week, I am begging off anything to do with Valentine's as I try to figure out what on earth to get her. (Apart from the car that she keeps mentioning. My how I laughed.)

  4. I think over here, it is agony for children who aren't popular and don't get cards and sheer bliss for those who do get them.
    Maybe it would be better from a classroom point of view if they were sent off routinely to all class members (like Mike said) then no one would feel left out.

    My old man always sends me one (after 40+yrs of marriage) and flowers!!!!!! So obviously I get him a card back.
    I don't think its a big deal over here though.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  5. It is totally over the top here. We actually had written instructions from the school on how many Valentines to write, with the names of all the children in the class. They have also been asked to wear red to school tomorrow. I can't bear to think of all the crappy little cards and candy that will just end up going in the bin on Monday evening - what a waste.

    It's actually really turned me off Valentine's, which I used to think was quite fun (as in the days when I might receive a card from a secret admirer or a bunch of flowers from my husband). This year, we've both agreed not even to buy each other a card. And, we were thinking of taking the boys out to eat tonight, but then realised it's the 13th and it will be hell out there. Sigh.

  6. I like Kat's comment about Cupid puking!

  7. Haha! Love the comments. I can definitely see the commercial side of Valentines Day on TV, on the street, basically whenever I open my eyes!

    But for those who have their head down all year round (in work) or aren't very loving or positive, I think it's a great way to remind them about (and this is going to be cheesy) love. My mum's been depressed for years. Whenever we buy her presents for her birthday or Christmas she shuns them away, she hardly ever goes out. She doesn't always go out on V Day but it's another excuse that we can use, which sometimes works, in putting a smile on her face or getting her out the house.

    Don't get me wrong, we don't go all out. Usually my dad buys her a card, some flowers and a perfume, and sometimes we'll go out for a meal. Nothing fancy.


  8. Spending Valentine's Day in the States has totally put me off the holiday. It used to be quite sweet now it's hard work - we prepared 65 bloody Valentines for school. That's not fun or romantic, it's a waste of time and money.

    Bah humbug!

  9. I can't believe that the sending of V cards has reached the bizarre proportions you speak of. What a total nightmare. Luckily it hasnt happened here yet....
    I love V day- I always get a massive card and lots of roses. What's not to like?
    But we would never eat out on V day- rip offsville - set meals, horrible food, terrible prices. Stay at home with candles and nice wine

  10. Just wrote a little post-Valentine's screenplay on my blog...

  11. Yuck. That pretty much covers my sentiments regarding the day, it's so over done. Every gift is a cliche. Who wants to be given a cliche?

  12. Yes, like nappy we got a list of kids names and were strongly encouraged to get cards for the whole class. It is totally a kid holiday for us now, another chore, though my husband did get me some flowers, which was more than I expected!
    I came around a little to the kids and cards things though; they had so much fun


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