A misunderstood holiday is getting ill-deserved reproach
Many in Lebanon today are having a counter-cultural moment against Valentine’s day. The vulgar commercialisation and exploitation of the event, the peer pressure and the showcasing of a cartoonish version of romantic love have all contributed to leaving a sour taste in our mouths.
Based on a completely unscientific sample of my internet friends and real friends, I have concluded that it’s becoming cool to hate Valentine’s day.
Hate by Association
But the anger and hate are misdirected. Valentine’s day is not the problem, the problem is the way it’s being exploited, abused and indiscriminately shoved in our faces for transparently commercial reasons. To illustrate, imagine if you woke up one day in a world in which Teachers’ day is used as an occasion to sell expensive text books, to advertise new schools, fancy stationary, special courses, teacher bus tours, teacher meals, teachers everywhere, on tvs, on billboards, in magazines…Or imagine if mothers’ day was used as an excuse to sell lingerie (oh wait, you don’t need to imagine that one)..
As a result, a lot of people have reached the wrong conclusion: That Valentine’s day itself is a problem. That it is a pointless celebration. That every day should be Valentine’s day. As one Lebanese puts it: “It shouldn’t be just once a year that you show your love. It should be every day.” God knows how many times I heard that one.
A Day of Appreciation
Many people haven’t found their better halves yet, and the Valentines ads can be very insensitive to their feelings. But the problem here is simply bad ad targeting. Perhaps restaurants and rose vendors should use more google and facebook ads that target people who have explicitly declared that they are in relationships.
There’s a reason why we have all these “appreciation days”: Workers day, mothers day, fathers day, Women’s day, teachers day..etc. These are occasions for us to reflect on how well we show these people our gratitude and respect. What these people have in common is that we have a tendency to take their affection and efforts for granted. A yearly reminder is a good way to check with ourselves if our behavior is consistent with our stated values.
That same logic applies to the special person in your life. As life goes on, we begin to take them for granted and their “specialness” wears off. It would be a real shame to vilify the day in which we remind ourselves how special that person really is to us.