Who needs love when you have a WKD Blue

An ex-colleague of mine once argued the case against me for the positives of Valentine’s Day, pointing out that it was an excuse for excessive romance. To back this up he said for the last Valentine’s Day he’d taken his girlfriend to Paris.

“How long have you been going out with her?” I asked.

“Just under two years,” he replied blushing.

“And what did you do the year before that?”

“We went away for a romantic weekend.”

“That,” I said gravely,” is a big mistake then.”

And it was. He’d peaked too early, and sure enough was summarily dumped several months later.

It would be all too easy to claim my hate of this day but that, I think, would be too strong a reaction. I don’t have anything against the day itself, nor the overt commercialisation of it. After all, if there’s a gap in the market to exploit naive, and not so naive, idiots to spend lots of money on cards, holidays, meals out and presents, all at excessively high prices, then I have nothing against this. The companies are simply following good business practice and if you, as a consumer, are too stupid to realise you’ve been had then that is not my problem. I bet you my bank account’s a lot happier at the end of today and I’m less stressed than most people.

No, what I really dislike are people who tell me to stop grouching, and that my attitude runs contrary to the spirit of the day. And, where, pray, did this spirit emerge from? Valentine himself? Unlikely.

For a start, there was more than one of the man. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes there were, in all likelihood, three St. Valentines and its not entirely clear which one the festival surrounds or even what they did in their lives to necessarily merit sainthood. Given that all three were martyred, they most likely met somewhat grizzly and distinctly unromantic ends.

Nevertheless, Valentine still has a feast, a Saints Day and must have done something to merit this. Not so. In all likelihood the day was created by the Christian church in an attempt to stamp out some of the pagan festivals still celebrated at the time, in this case Lupercalia. Valentine just happened to be a convenient saint with a day nearish to the pagan celebration, so the two were quickly bolted together, much like a shotgun wedding. Romance here was distinctly lacking.

One of the Valentine, probably not the one from Africa was probably executed refused to deny Christ in front of Claudius and, for his crime, was executed, although after he restored sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer, which is where the legend first sprung from, as apparently the martyr-to-be fell in love with the girl and left her a final note ‘from your Valentine’, although the latter part is often absent from any description of the Saint. Surely it’s enough that he, apparently, performed a miracle, you’d think, without the Hollywood ending. Even that wasn’t good enough for the Catholic church who removed Valentine’s Day as an official holiday on the basis that they’d couldn’t be certain he existed and, as such, probably didn’t fit all the criteria for sainthood.

In fact, if any writer should take credit for the emergence of what we now know as Valentine’s Day, it’s Chaucer, who mentioned the tradition in Parlement of Foules – a reference to the mating of birds and a lovers ritual, although there’s no record of where he got this from and it could very well be the product of artistic licence. Still, people were only too happy to take this as gospel [1] and run with it even if the artistic licence is possibly the most romantic thing about it all.

But so firmly ensconced is the lovers’ day in our psyche that, even if you argue:

1. There’s a good chance Valentine wasn’t a saint

2. He’s more likely to have been horribly killed than a star-crossed lover

3. He had naff all to do with Chaucer.

there are still people who put forward the argument that it’s a great chance to embrace love, show that special someone that you care and generally do all you can to make that person feel special then I’d simply ask, ‘what kind of relationship do you have?’

Even if we put aside the argument that if you’re dumb enough to fall for a blatant marketing trick you deserve to be fleeced, it still doesn’t make you any more special as a boyfriend if you’re doing exactly the same as thousands of other blokes around the globe.

You can buy flowers any time. You can book a nice restaurant at any time. Hell, you don’t even have to do it for any reason other than to show the person you love them, although again I’d argue if your sole way of showing affection is to focus on the material then you’re probably not going to have a particular deep and meaningful relationship.

Prescribing when I should be romantic is, to me, exactly the same as prescribing when I should have fun, take time for myself or be creative. If somebody told you that you were only allowed to go out on nights x,y,z and you had no option to have fun even if the evenin’s entertainment didn’t appeal to them, you’d rebel. Most of us don’t like having situations forced upon us where we’ve got a choice. We’re quite happy to be flexible when booking a holiday and where we go to, so why is it written you’ve got to buy your girlfriend a present before wining or dining on February the 14th.

I’ve never sent a Valentine’s card, brought a present for or taken a girl out to dinner on that day and, unless her birthday is on that day, never will. What I might do, though, without warning is take her away on a weekend that isn’t February the 14th to one of the most stunningly beautiful parts of the world [2], find a quiet, yet stunning area, produce flowers, champagne and a special box of memories for her, then look into her eyes and tell her I love her.

Might being the operative word. It depends what’s on telly that weekend.

[1] Pun intended.

[2] Not Paris. Not for a good few years into the relationship, at any rate.

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7 Responses to “Who needs love when you have a WKD Blue”


  1. 1 Katherine February 15, 2007 at 10:37 am

    Could it possibly be that some people do have a great relationship already, do buy flowers on spec, do go our randomly for dinner in nice restaurants and have surprise romantic weekends away, but also do it on Valentine’s Day just cos it’s nice too?

  2. 2 cycleofsong February 15, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    Re: Katherine’s Comment

    It could possibly be, yes. And I suspect that it is often the case that VD is not the only time most couples show they care. But the point being is that it’s a trap. If you don’t buy into the whole VD as a “holiday” thing, then somehow you’ve become an unlovable curmudgeon who is too cheap to spend some money to be romantic on Feb 14th. And it’s frought with pitfalls, as Gary alluded to: what if you’ve only beeen going out a very short time? It’s VD, you have to do something, right? But what? How much do you care/want the person to know you care? Too much pressure!

  3. 3 Chris February 16, 2007 at 11:13 am

    I really misinterpreted “VD” there…

  4. 4 Ceri February 16, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    You’re not the only one Chris!

  5. 5 Chris February 16, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Yes, well. “It’s VD, you have to do something, right? But what?”

    I’d got as far as thinking about that test and realised it was Valentine’s Day. Mind in the gutter…

  6. 6 cycleofsong February 16, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    They rate about the same in my book.


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