St. Valentine’s Day


February is the month for celebrating St Valentine’s Day. Or, for those of a more pragmatic nature, February is the month for trying to get into someone’s pants through the purchase of a saccharin greetings card and various gifts of chocolate, alcohol and lingerie.

Little is known of Valentine. According to Wikipedia, Pope Gelasius I established the feast of Valentine in 496. It’s suggested Valentine was possibly a Roman priest or a bishop, martyred between 269 and 273 for the heinous crime of marrying Christian couples. Allegedly, it’s because of Chaucer’s writing that we have come to associate Valentine with romantic love. But details are incredibly sketchy and facts in this case are impossible to nail down.

And, rather than trying to discover who Valentine was, or why we celebrate him, shouldn’t we be asking what does all this romantic stuff have to do with our modern interpretation of St Valentine’s Day?

Call me cynical, but I get easily confused around this time of year. First of all, what does a heart have to do with love? Especially the sort of love that most people would like to enjoy on February 14th? Of all the body’s organs, I would have thought the heart was least representative of the sender’s intentions or expectations.

I want you for my Valentine.
We’ll have a romantic tussle.
Which is why I’m sending you this card,
And a drawing of cardiac muscle…

Admittedly, a heart does symbolise romance, and is probably more apposite than a kidney, lung or liver, but wouldn’t it be more appropriate to decorate cards with images of genitalia, and maybe include bawdier poems?

I want you for my Valentine
So I sing a romantic song
Now get your clothes off, darling
And f**k me all night long.
I want you for my Valentine
I ignore all your bad habits
So let’s both take our clothes off
And shag like nasty rabbits.

Arguably, I’m being reductive. But I’ve never fully understood the point of Valentine’s Day. Considering love is such a spiritually uplifting emotion, why do we need to set aside a day each year to celebrate its existence? Is it proof of my love if I send my wife a Valentine’s card? Or am I simply subscribing to a structured commercial event that has been inculcated into our collective consciousness by a consumerist society driven by greedy capitalists? Or do I construct these elaborate arguments just to avoid buying flowers and paying for a restaurant?

Don’t get me wrong. I adore some elements of St Valentine’s Day. Mandatory sex; sexy lingerie and gifts of chocolate make it my favourite holiday after Halloween (which includes mandatory sex; sexy lingerie; gifts of chocolate and spooky masks). But I just rebel against the forcedness of the occasion.

Which is my longwinded way of saying, have a happy and joyous Valentine’s Day – and make sure the other halves of February are equally joyous when you’re celebrating your love.

Ashley Lister
February 2010

“Ashley Lister Submits” © 2010 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

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