Photo: danielmoyle
Photo: danielmoyle

By Milenka Stevens

The thought of flowers, heart-shaped chocolates and soppy cards may seem like quite a nauseating thought to some, but to others it is a day of celebrating the love for that special someone. However, should it just be showcased on the one day of the year? And what about those who are far away from their loved one?

Valentine’s Day has long been a tradition where those lucky ones in relationships or those who hold the affection of admirers have been treated with cards and chocolates on the 14th February every year. Surrounded by mystery, there are many speculations about its origin, some suggesting it began as a Pagan fertility festival in ancient Rome and other claims including a link to the saints named Valentine and Valentinus in the Catholic Church. During the 18th century, it became a day of exchanging small gifts and handwritten notes, expressing one’s affections. It’s no wonder that it is so widely commemorated, being the 2nd most celebrated holiday in the world – who wouldn’t want to be spoiled with free gifts and attention every year?!

However, this poses the question of whether love for another person should be glorified on one particular day of the year, because surely, if you love and care for someone you should aim to show it every day? Obviously you can’t spoil someone with gifts on a daily basis but can do little things to show care and affection, like making a cup of coffee in the morning or just sending a goodnight text. Some argue that Valentine’s Day completely takes attention away from little everyday gestures, making people feel like small details will not be adequate enough compared to what is “expected” of this particular date in the calendar.

Many typical advertised Valentine’s Day gifts are just that – generic things bought from card shops that say “Happy Valentine’s Day” (sometimes quite literally) and nothing else. Somehow a teddy bear saying “I love you” is not quite the same as being told you are loved by the person you care about. Most people I know would much rather receive a personal gift that not only means something but is also quite practical (such as a necklace or a skirt you’ve had your eye on for a while), rather than a generic card-shop-gift.

Valentine’s Day can be like a slap in the face, especially when facing this day after a distressing breakup, which can make you feel like you are forever alone. Perhaps the hardest one for students is being at university away from your girlfriend or boyfriend and not being able to see that person on the day. I have a flatmate whose boyfriend is back home in another country and due to awkward timetables and the cost of plane tickets, they are not actually able to see each other on the day. They will, however, be celebrating in a couple of weeks time, proving that you can celebrate your relationship on any day of the year.

Please don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being pro Valentine’s Day – I will, in fact, be celebrating it like thousands of other people – but it is the commercialism of it that is tiresome. Of course, being a student, I obviously would not spend (or let my boyfriend spend) over £40 each for a “set Valentine’s menu” with champagne and tiny portions of ostentatious-sounding dishes that lead to nothing but a disappointment in your stomach. Za Za Bazaar seems like a much better option.