Somewhere between red roses and Tinder, Valentine’s Day lost its footing. These days, people are more likely to celebrate Valentine’s Day because they feel obliged to, not because they want to. Failing this, many may even participate for the sake of a like-worthy post on social media.
In the UK, Valentine’s Day was first celebrated around the 17th century. By the 18th century, it was common for friends and lovers alike to swap handwritten letters. By the 1900s, improvement in printing technology introduced printed cards, and that was history. Exchanging gifts and cards has since become tradition. Even those who don’t believe in Valentine’s Day are likely to feel obliged to participate. For others, Valentine’s Day has become entrenched in fairy-tale-like expectations that are unachievable. There’s a misalignment between partners’ expectations, with the overarching trend suggesting many have lost sight of what Valentine’s Day is supposed to represent.
When Valentine’s Day was first introduced in the UK, behaviour was encoded by restraint; showing passion or desire was perverse and frowned upon. Valentine’s Day offered lovers a welcome lapse from scrutiny, and a chance to project their feelings in a way that stayed loyal to tradition. Fortunately, modern couples don’t have to worry about losing their social status because they kissed in public. However, few people are celebrating the holiday in the manner it was originally intended: as an opportunity to celebrate your relationship.
It is time to consider what this day means personally, as opposed to culturally. What if Valentine’s Day was a chance to look into ourselves and our relationships? As opposed to this mash-up of outdated clichés and marketing campaigns, use this year to reframe Valentine’s Day. HelloFresh recently released data that suggested over 70% of couples will be celebrating Valentine’s Day by staying home together. This study also highlighted that the majority of couples prefer their partner to cook for them because it is more romantic. In fact, almost 80% of UK couples don’t think an intimate, romantic meal can ever go wrong. This deviates from commonly held beliefs that Valentine’s Day necessitates splurges on lavish meals or gifts. Instead, couples are much happier with a home-cooked meal and some quality time.
Furthermore, a report from Google revealed that a growing number of people are searching for experiences as Valentine’s gifts, as opposed to material items. Couples are reviving the original meaning of Valentine’s Day, and using it as a chance to forge intimate and personal memories together. Make 2018 the year you celebrate Valentine’s Day in a way that reflects your relationship. Reject the societal pressures to invest in cards, gifts and pricey restaurants; instead enjoy each other’s company and take time to appreciate one another.