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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