Saturday 24 March 2018

Anna Nolan: 'Leave Valentine’s Day to the lovesick teens, save yourself all the silly expense'

Valentine’s Day has become one of the most irritatingly commercial celebrations, says Anna Nolan
Valentine’s Day has become one of the most irritatingly commercial celebrations, says Anna Nolan

Anna Nolan

Three weeks today, countless couples around the country will be playing a very dangerous game. On the morning of February 14, men and women will be weighing up their options.

“Does he really not want a Valentine’s present?”

“Is it totally inappropriate to get flowers from a garage?”

“I know she says she’s on a diet, but will she go nuts if I don’t get her chocolates?”

Valentine’s Day has become one of the most irritatingly commercial celebrations.

You have only to walk by a greetings card shop or stroll through your local shopping centre to see all those red decorations blaring at you.

The message? You must show your partner you love them.

Why this day? The factual origins of February 14 becoming the day of love are wishy-washy.

With stories ranging from a fourth century priest called Valentine performing weddings for soldiers who were banned from marrying, to a Slovenian version of St Valentine being the saint of spring, Valentine has gone through so many transformations – he’s more Split than James McAvoy.

From around the 1400s, the February date became more established and transformed into the day to book your hour-and-a-half slot in a restaurant, getting over-charged while you look at all the other couples also getting over-charged.

For me, Valentine’s Day was at its best when I was a teenager, when it was all a surprise. It was full of suspense and heartache and competition and thrill – and disappointment.

I’m from a family of six girls, so there should have been the odd card pushed through the letterbox.

Other girls in my class were such pros. It’s like they knew how to get cards from the boys. They would strut into the school on the morning of Valentine’s, almost in slow motion. They were the more “mature” girls, and I would look at them with such awe and envy.

They would casually ask the rest of us how many cards we got and then, at the end, throw in the fact that they got five.

I loved that these girls had suitors. I loved that some boys had gone to the effort to write terrible poetry to them.

My family were actually rubbish at getting cards.

One of my sisters likes to go with the concept that we were the unattainable ones. Shyeah! Absolutely.

Another sister got one card that read: “If Jane was a chain it would bind us together.” How very 1977.

There’s nothing magical or romantic about Valentine’s Day if you’re not a teenager. Everything is forced. Everything is commercial.

Restaurants put on silly menus, intended to make you pay over-the-top prices as you stare into your lover’s eyes. Red roses are pumped into every florist up and down the country.

Nothing is spontaneous or surprising.

Let’s leave Valentine’s Day to the kids. That’s when it means the most. Writing poetry, unrequited love, heartbreak, jealousy, attraction and rejection. Starting out in life with all its opportunities ahead.

For the rest of us, it’s just an excuse to spend silly money on silly things. We can do that any day of the year.

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