Wednesday 18 September 2019

Dr Ciara Kelly: Love or loathe it, St Valentine's Day is here to stay

Valentine's Day helps us mark how we feel about love and our beloved
Valentine's Day helps us mark how we feel about love and our beloved

Ciara Kelly

Happy Valentine's Day. Yes, not really a greeting and also clearly a bit late, but still vaguely topical.

St Valentine's Day, depending on your view is either the original Hallmark holiday - although clearly now there's a clatter of them - like Mother's Day, Father's Day, National School Teachers' Day, Colleagues You Worked On a Failed Project With Day, Distant Relatives Day. And, of course, wedding anniversaries. (Although that last one may be a real thing.) Or it's an opportunity/requirement to actually express how you feel about the significant other in your life.

Or very possibly - it's a bit of both. Because, despite lots of us being cynics in other aspects of our lives, so many of us do seem to end up sharing a bottle of plonk and a plate of pasta on that night - despite recognising all the while that it's a bit of a scam, it really shouldn't be a thing and we probably should know better. The thing is this, you may in your rational brain scoff at all the saccharine, schmaltz that goes with Valliers (I'm just trying that out - let me know what you think) and opt for non-acknowledgment of the feast of the patron saint of love. Eschewing cards, dinners out, presents and all notions of romance. And opting instead to loftily ignore it.

But why would you do that?

Is it because it's ego dystonic for you to be told how to carry on in your relationship by marketers and society in general. (I should point out at this juncture that it has taken me about a decade to shoe-horn ego dystonic - one of my favourite expressions, into a column so this is quite a big moment for me). In other words you aren't the sort of person who identifies with these kind of constructed event days so you have no reason or intention of getting involved with looking for a table for two in your local pizzeria just because everyone else is doing it.

Is it because romance or indeed faux romance of any kind isn't really your thing? Or - and this is key - is it because, to be honest, your relationship isn't really all that great and the idea of going out with your other half is far less tempting than staying home in your pyjamas, watching Netflix, eating dry pasta and drinking the bottle of plonk on your own. And therein lies the rub and the real reason we go out. We may know that Valentine's Day is actually a load of twaddle and really whether we give each other new red fluffy jocks/knickers that day says very little about how we actually feel about each other. But we are afraid that if we don't give said jocks - our nearest and dearest may think it says something about how we feel. And indeed our beloved - now bereft of new red jocks - may in fact actually believe that it does say something about how we feel and so they now feel less loved and less appreciated than their counterpart in all those couples who have duly shuffled out to their local gastro pub for an obligatory set menu for two with a free bottle of house red.

Simply put - it's a minefield.

And the easiest and simplest thing was just to head out into the freezing drizzle last Wednesday to avoid having your love and fidelity, your ongoing commitment or indeed the very essence of your relationship, called into question.

Even though we aren't 100pc comfortable with being a sheep who is going through the motions relationship-wise because it's the done thing. And even though love is not measurable by boxes of chocolate or gaudy love heart cards - it's measured in small acts of kindness, like cups of tea or a shoulder to cry on.

The truth is we mostly don't head out with our loved one of a Wednesday night, for no reason at all to spend an evening together where the focus is on amorousness and a celebration of what we mean to each other. And maybe Valentines is a construct but without it maybe some of us would go one end of the year to the next without ever marking how we feel about our love. And maybe red fluffy jocks are actually OK - in a certain light and on a certain person. So maybe Hallmark was on to something after all.

Who said romance is dead?

@ciarakellydoc Ciara presents Lunchtime Live on Newstalk Radio weekdays from 12-2

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