From New York
should be me. Yet another Valentine's Day approaches, and
here I am, single. Apparently, I should be dreading the day.
T-shirts emblazoned with love is in pollutes the air stare
at me from street stands; hundreds of anti-Valentine's Web
sites sell greeting cards that say things like "Cr*ppy
Valentine's Day, you loser" or quote philosopher Jose
Ortega y Gasset lamenting that "One day, the fantasy
evaporates and with it, love dies." I got an e-mail the
other day saying that there's an anti-Valentine's "protest"
taking place downtown. Maybe I should join in. They do say
misery loves company.
Single or not, I love Valentine's Day. John Lennon imagined
a world without heaven, no religion, too ... all the people
living life in peace -- woo hoo, that's Valentine's Day! In
our globalised world, February 14 is the only holiday that
we all share, regardless of race, religion, nationality and
marital status. Halloween? A pagan European ritual. Christmas?
No getting around the religious significance. New Year's comes
close to being universal, but what about the world's two biggest
countries, China and India, which have their own lunar festivities?
Capitalism alone dictates V-Day.
differ? Hallmark sells hundreds of millions of cards on Valentine's
Day. Almost every country now rates the holiday as one of
its top shopping days of the year. Roses, diamonds, cards,
e-cards, chocolates, cakes, stuffed animals, lingerie ...
Freedom may not be on the march, but Valentine, the patron
saint of consumerism, sure is. Chinese businesses, whose customers
have qixi, their own lover's day on the seventh of the seventh
lunar month, prefer February 14 because of the promise of
more purchases. Thais have reportedly increased their Valentine
spending by about 20 percent each year since 2000. Even in
Iran, the holiday is celebrated by the more reform-minded.
OK, so Saudi authorities frown on it. But they don't really
smile about all that much anyway.
because if there's anything that truly does bind humanity
today, it's consumerism. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean
to belittle those who choose to get sentimental on this fateful
day. I, too, have had the good and the bad. I once gave a
girl I loved a necklace: she gave me two more years. When
I was about 16, I not only got love letters from three girls
in my class, I received one from my friend's sister and her
pals, saying I made their "knees tremble." (In a
good way, I like to think.) Good times.
the bad. I gave a girlfriend a pretty little box of very expensive
chocolates and failed to notice her dismay throughout dinner.
(She later admitted that the size of the box implied she was
fat.) I once got dumped on V-Day, too. Victory for her, I
conquers all. This February 14, if you're in a relationship,
buy a rose and boost Colombia's economy. If you're proposing,
splurge on that diamond from South Africa. Married? Be thankful
that Hallmark has reminded you which special day you're supposed
to be remembering. Singles, go to one of those anti-Valentine
parties where you'll meet other free-and-easy souls. Your
holiday experience is as legitimate as any other. Perhaps
even more so, for you'll be getting to the heart of the holiday
-- not the love, but the lucre.
2005, Newsweek Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004