Valentine’s Day is not all hearts and flowers. There is a darker side, Angeline Close finds. She conducts consumer research and teaches advertising and marketing at the University of Georgia. Her research has uncovered conflicted feelings and outright animosity toward Valentine’s Day.
She described her findings in an email:
Some, even those happily in a romantic relationship, perceive aspects of exclusion on the holiday. For instance, love is not limited to heterosexual relationships, despite what Hallmark would have us believe with the copy in the vast majority (if not all) of their Valentine’s cards.
You’re not alone
If you hate Valentine’s Day, you may have more company than you realize. Nearly half, 45 percent, of 6,375 consumers polled in January for the National Retail Federation’s 2015 Valentine’s Day spending survey said they expect to sit out the holiday. The group is about half women and half men.
That leaves the 55 percent who will celebrate the occasion, of course. Many people tell Close that they welcome all the fuss about romance. But many say they feel left out. They complain that the holiday is a commercial event aimed at pressuring them to spend on meaningless purchases, or they say they’re confused or anxious about whether they will fulfill their partners’ expectations for gifts, romance and sex.
Hijack Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day “fetishizes romantic love and therefore makes brutally clear, for many people, what they may lack,” says writer Kate Christensen, in Oprah Magazine.
For the confused and alienated, alternatives are springing up. Some are wry, some bitter and plenty are loving, but in a bigger, broader way. According to the Retail Federation survey:
- 3 percent of those polled planned to buy “anti-Valentine’s Day gifts.”
- Nearly 10 percent said they’d treat themselves to “something special.”
- Nearly 11 percent planned to celebrate by getting together with family or “other single” friends.
Christensen is one of those who likes to make the holiday her own. Her article describes a Valentine’s Day dinner party she hosted for friends, including singles and couples, to celebrate their friendship and community.
“Some women convert the holiday from a celebration of sexual intimacy to a celebration of familial love,” Close writes, in an unpublished article she shared with Money Talks News. Children give valentines to everyone, including family and friends, and it’s only when we’re older that the emphasis on romance takes over, she observes.
Find an alternative
The flight from the packaged version of Valentine’s Day has people looking at alternative holidays such as:
1. Singles Awareness Day: Huffington Post Canada calls this the holiday “for people who hate V-Day.” (Check out the slide show of anti-Valentine’s Day cards.) There’s a site (alas, the acronym is SAD) that proposes moving the celebration from Feb. 14 to Feb. 15 to help shift the emphasis from romance: “This is the day that all of the single people can proudly stand up and show that it is OKAY to be single!”
2. Friendship Day: Finns don’t reject Valentine’s Day (Ystävänpäivä); they just give it a more-generous spin. They “do give roses, chocolates and greeting cards, but they focus on the friendship aspect,” says About.com.
3. Black Day: In Korea on April 14, singles mourn their supposedly lonely status and “drown their sorrows” with a bowl of black noodles, jjajang myeon, a national comfort food, Smithsonian Magazine says.
4. Singles’ Day: Guanggun Jie, the national Singles’ Day celebration, is China’s alternative. Celebrated Nov. 11, it began in the 1990s at universities and “is basically an excuse to party with all your unattached mates,” MTV says. Bloomberg, though, says the occasion has “morphed into the biggest online shopping day of the year.”
5. Quirkyalone Day: Blogger Sasha Cagen claims credit for founding her own alternative celebration for Feb. 14. She wrote up the premise in a manifesto, Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics. Quickyalone Day is not a singles’ pity party but “a feel-good alternative to the marketing barrage of Valentine’s Day and an antidote to the silicone version of love presented in shows such as “Hooking Up” and “The Bachelor,” she writes.
Maybe we should all accept alone as the new norm. After all, we’re marrying later, divorcing more frequently and living longer, and many of us now are living alone. Realtor.org quotes from MSN Real Estate:
Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist and author of “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone,” says that young adults ages 18 to 34 are the fastest-growing group of people living alone. Solo households are also mostly women: 18 million women live alone versus 14 million men. The majority of solo households are in cities and metro areas.
“Anti-V” Cards and gifts
At Someecards, some of the tamer e-cards say:
- “Just wanted to remind you it’s too late to break up with me before Valentine’s Day.”
- “Just remember that being alone on Valentine’s Day is no different than any other day of your life.”
- “I can’t believe how much I’m not sick of you.”
For those who wish to go all out in the search for witty gifts, here are a few ideas:
- The Grow A New Boyfriend kit: (“Mr. Right Grows 6 Times His Size in Water.”)
- The Ex 5-Piece Knife Set with Unique Red Holder features “your ex” as a kitchen-knife block and doubles as a voodoo doll.
- Etsy has oodles of anti-Valentine’s gifts.
- The Magic Frog (add water to transform him into a prince).
- Crafty? Get a heart-shaped Jello mold and follow these instructions to make a gift of a realistic heart that oozes blood.
Which faction do you identify with? The hearts-and-flowers bunch? Or the anti-V crowd? Post a comment below or at Money Talks News’ Facebook page.