Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

The conversation: Valentine's Day musings for cynics

February 14, 2011 |  2:17 pm

Valentines Day

I'm all for any holiday that helps stimulate the economy. For some cynics, though, Valentine's Day is more than a dumb Hallmark holiday. They argue…

The divorce rate goes up around Valentine’s Day

New Jersey lawyer Cary Cheifetz agreed, saying, "We see a definite spike in divorce cases around Valentine’s Day. I see it as a combination of cabin fever, people waiting until after the holidays and, most importantly, people waiting until they know what their spouse’s bonus and income situation will be in the New Year."

--"Divorce filings rise 40 percent around Valentine's Day" [New York Post]

Commercialization has ruined the holiday:

Today, the holiday is big business: According to the market research firm IBIS World, Valentine's Day sales reached $17.6 billion last year; this year's sales are expected to total $18.6 billion.

But that commercialization has spoiled the day for many. Helen Fisher, a sociologist at Rutgers University, says we have only ourselves to blame.

"This isn't a command performance," she says. "If people didn't want to buy Hallmark cards, they would not be bought, and Hallmark would go out of business."

And so the celebration of Valentine's Day goes on, in varied ways. Many will break the bank buying jewelry and flowers for their beloveds. Others will celebrate in a SAD (that's Single Awareness Day) way, dining alone and binging on self-gifted chocolates.

--"The Dark Origins Of Valentine's Day" by Arnie Seipel [NPR]

Southern men have ruined the holiday:

Regarding an Alabama sex shop’s vibrators-in-exchange-for-guns program…

Southern men love guns, women, and God — in that order. No hillbilly worth his salt will trade his beloved phallic symbol for a much smaller phallic substitute that doesn't shoot bullets.

--"Adult Shop's Offer: Sex Toys For Guns" by Robert Paul Reyes [NewsBlaze via The Week]

The Internet has ruined love:

Exhibit A:

The Internet and social media allow us to make connections that 20 years ago never would have existed, but such "networking" should complement our social lives, not become a substitute for substantive interaction. As we expand our social webs, we should also resist the hold that doing so electronically has on expressing what's in our hearts. […] This Valentine's Day, I have one wish for the lovelorn: that they pick up the phone and dial - and dance - like it's 1999.

--"A Valentine's Day wish for the lovelorn: Learn to pick up the phone" by Lisa Bonos [the Washington Post]

Exhibit B:


[via One Single Story]

Valentine’s Day is only sweet when you're a kid:

At least when we were kids, Valentine's Day was fun. The night before, as soon as my homework was finished, Mom would let me open my special store-bought package of heart-shaped greeting cards, and I'd spend the rest of the night addressing the miniature envelopes to every one of the boys and girls in my class. The best one would always go to my pal Tom, such as, "Won't you be my Frankenstein/Valentine," under a portrait of the iconic monster smiling brightly, in spite of the huge bolt through his head.

But whatever age I was when it became dumb to send Valentine's cards to boys, also marked the beginning of my own personal Dork Ages.

--“Mr. Lonely on Valentine's Day” by David McGrath [the Chicago Tribue]

As an adult, the holiday creates too many expectations and disappointment:

Valentine's Day is a set-up, and the outcome is repeated dissatisfaction. There is no freaking way anyone, not even your best friend-slash-lover of God-knows-how-many-years, could, in this one particular 24-hour time period, demonstrate his or her appreciation in just precisely the way you want to be appreciated. Can't happen.

Why can't it happen? Because, frankly, you expect too much. You fantasize about rose petals and multiple candles. You anticipate a well-lit restaurant and a really handsome but unobtrusive waiter. You build up expectations and don't vocalize them until they haven't been met, which leaves one party feeling inadequate and the other unloved. This leads into that inevitable day-after Valentine's relationship hangover in which you contemplate every life decision you've ever made. All because of Feb. 14.

--"Heartsick: Why Valentine's Day Must Die" by Emily Atkin [the New York Observer]


Not a bright Valentine's Day in Laguna

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: A man buys flowers from a vendor on Valentine's Day in Farragut Square in Washington. Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Comments ()