Not my Valentine

The wheel of the year brings us round to another festive period that drives me a bit nuts. Once again the great God of commerce is thoroughly worshipped in a festival that does a lot to inspire feelings of guilt, inadequacy and misery. It’s a time when anyone who is unwillingly single gets their unhappiness emphasised for them in every shop window. Today, it is your job to be happily in love with someone and demonstrating this by spending a lot of cash. Gah. He’s not my bloody saint.

Some years, the too-big bouquet of flowers is a reminder of how little romance there is the rest of the year. Sometimes the perfume smells of guilt. Sometimes the romantic meal for two, surrounded by other people desperately trying to do a romantic meal, just flags up that you don’t know what to say to each other anymore. Worse still of course is finding that no one has bothered. No cards from secret admirers, no flowers, no gestures at all. Bad enough when you’re alone, downright humiliating if you’re supposed to be in a relationship.

One day a year for romantic gestures does not a relationship make. When the relationship itself is thin, sad, and troubled, the failure to honour dates, birthdays, anniversaries and this one, just makes things worse. However, in a good relationship, the idea of this being a particularly special occasion seems a bit… mad. If the romantic gestures are there all the time, if you sit down and talk over a meal more nights than not, if you buy each other little gifts just because… what does St Valentine have to offer? Not much. An excuse, we decided, to go to Thorntons together and pick out some chocolates to share. No secrecy and no surprises, and to be honest that joint chocolate quest was one of the sweetest things I’ve shared around this irritating day. Almost made me feel positive about it.

Somewhere round here is the Roman festival of Lupercalia, involving the donning of skins, something to do with goats, and a bit of mayhem. I’m sketchy on the details because I’ve never celebrated it, but it sounds a lot less saccharine and a lot more fun. Also somewhere round here is some near-forgotten Italian festival where you give the object of your desire, a book! That’s for the win, we could do that, I’m not fussy about the date. Any day is an excellent day to bestow a book upon the one you love most. Then of course there’s Beltain, and that’s a whole other bag full of weasels…

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. View all posts by Nimue Brown

5 responses to “Not my Valentine

  • Talis Kimberley

    Can I order a bag of weasels, please? I love how you write, by the way.

  • Robin

    Much as I’d be bowled over by a card or box of chocs from a secret admirer (or a blatant one, for that matter), Lupoercalia is tomorrow and SO much more fun – http://www.manygods.org.uk/articles/festivals/lupercalia.shtml

  • Angharad Lois

    In the name of balance, I feel I should add a corrective here – perhaps because I am incurable romantic, or because I grew up in a country which lacks that sense of ironic distance from the more exuberant emotions :)

    I have encountered a lot of people making a point of saying that they don’t need valentine’s day, because they show their love for one another every day – as if it were an either/or situation. I would argue the opposite: the great god of commerce, as you say, is worshipped every day. Why should we let him have our feasts? I have always celebrated today, whether heartbroken, loved-up, partnered or alone, because romantic love – eros, agape – is something I feel is worth celebrating. And all the best celebrations are hand-made.

    Right now, my beloved is 4,000 miles away, with no phone signal or postal service, and only the slightest of internet connections. We managed to send each other tokens – he, a photo of his goat munching on a hand-made heart; me, a photo of a heart of candles enclosing a picture I had drawn him – and those tokens meant more than I can say. The things we celebrate, as pagans, are always part of our everyday lives: the celebration is simply an occasion when we set them apart, for a day, and honour their presence in our lives. For us, today, it was an occasion to step away from the relentless routine of work, housework and funding applications (me), and the gruelling daily grind of work in a third world country (him), to honour the love that sustains us and nourishes us through these harder times. It no more detracts from the love we show each other every day than, say, celebrating the Winter solstice detracts from our appreciation of the sun at any other moment in the year.

    As for worshipping the great god of commerce – if only this culture’s relationship with commerce were that meaningful. At least the act of worship creates a sense of value. What I see, in the relentless push and pull of commerce, is what philosophers have called “false consciousness”: the relentless hunger for a sense of value, in a pursuit that creates the very void it tries to fill.

  • Angharad Lois

    Having said all that, pancake day remains the undisputed highlight of my February :)

  • Jennifer Tavernier

    Huh? Oh yeah – it’s a work day. However, it’s a god excuse if someone wants to pass out chocolate. I accept all donations. chocolate is non-denominational. Secret admirer might weird me out, but guilty tenants can give at the office. lol! Now – where’s my paper-mache goat head?

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