February 14th is a day celebrated in most countries across the world and has been a major day of celebrations in England since the 15th Century. It is a day dedicated to all of the lucky folk who are in love, and, of course, in remembrance of Saint Valentine – a man who, as legend depicts, was imprisoned and executed for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and who, apparently, signed off his final letter to his love before his execution as ‘From your Valentine’. Isn’t that (depressingly) lovely!
However, Valentine’s Day has come to represent something very different from declarations of love and headless Roman Priests in this modern world we live in today. Aside from the wails of single women (and men) across the world and, as my flat-mate cleverly marked her calendar ‘cheap-chocolate date, 15th February’, Valentine’s Day, to a Sociologist and to Clintons, Thorntons, Flourists and any teddy-bear manufacturer is represented by one key word; consumerism. I know I sound like a massive sour-puss, (who, consequently did not receive any Valentine’s and hasn’t for a good few years), but it is undeniable that Valentine’s Day has been ransacked by the chocolate and cards industry.
It was difficult to get my mitts upon statistics for England and Wales, but I found that, shockingly, “Americans typically buy 180 million roses, 36 million boxes of candy and spend more than $14 billion on gifts” on February 14th – blooming crazy, eh! (hehe, blooming, flowers, geddit’?). But what I find to be truly remarkable is how when I asked a few people about where Valentine’s Day actually came from, I was more often than not met with a blank expression and a shrug of the shoulders. It is a religious festival and has historical significance, but fails to get a mention in schools across the country – if I’m not mistaken, something quite similar is happening with that special day in December when a fat man wearing red brings you presents (funnily enough, the fat man in red was born out of consumerism also – Mr Santa Claus is the prodigy of Coca-Cola!).
So, next year, when all you loved up folk are out buying giant red roses and all us single folk are stuffing our faces with cheap chocolates the following day, give a second though to poor Saint Valentine and inform the nearest person (red rose grasped in hand, or face smothered in chocolate), the exact reason why the everyone signs their cards ‘From your Valentine’ and why the fat man who visits in December wears red.