I love Valentine’s Day but I’m not blind to its flaws. It could do with an upgrade. Yes seriously. What started as a Western Christian feast day for a saint called Valentine has over time morphed into a gaudy celebration of love that is heralded by fancy boxes of chocolates, plush teddy bears and a scarcity of red roses. Such is the real or imagined pressure of this Saint’s Day that I recently read about a teenager who begged her father to let her stay home from school as she didn’t want to suffer another year of watching her classmates revel in their bounty of ephemeral love tokens whilst she received nothing. She’s far from unique.
Every year there are hordes of people young and old, single, divorced, married or widowed who feel the unrelenting pressure of the build up to Valentine’s Day and who would rather sleep through the entire day than face the indignity of a steady stream of flowers that aren’t for them or conversations about inspired Valentine’s dinners and extravagant travel getaways that they won’t be invited to. A day dedicated to love sweet love shouldn’t make people feel this way but just as Christmas can be agonising for people who are separated from family so too can Valentine’s Day. It’s not necessarily easier for people who are living their happily ever after either.
Surely it doesn’t have to be this way? Maybe we’ve misinterpreted the meaning of this special day of love. Let’s cast off some of the pressure and make Valentine’s Day a day of love that everyone can get involved with. In it’s new incarnation, it can be a day where we show love and kindness not just to our significant others but to our families, our friends, the wider community, the environment and last but not least, ourselves. We can take the time to show our compassion for the lonely and the homeless by volunteering or donating to charity. Whilst it’s easy to show love to our significant other it can sometimes mean so much more to be on the receiving end of warmth from a complete stranger. A smile, kind words or donations can mean the world to someone in need.
This could also be a way for us to take a positive yet simple stand against the rising tide of intolerance that has been sweeping the globe of late. Just taking a day to open our doors and spread some Valentine’s Day love beyond just a party of two. A quiet love fueled revolution. Here are a few ideas on how we can bring enjoy more love on Valentine’s Day.
1. Donate some money, clothes or books to a charity of your choice. If you want to keep to a Valentine’s theme choose a charity like the British Heart Foundation.
2. Do you have a friend, relative or colleague who has recently had a relationship breakdown and is dreading Valentine’s Day? Send them some flowers or chocolates accompanied by a card signed by you.
3. Send cards to people who have supported you or enhanced your life in some way over the past year. It can be a card to your cousin or the tube driver who makes your commute that little bit more bearable with his cheeky announcements. The cards don’t have to say ‘I love you’. They can be thank you cards or cards with just a heart and space for you to write your own personalised message of gratitude.
4. Give money, food or personal hygiene products to a homeless person or charity. If you have nothing to give, you can always just smile.
5. Practice love and kindness. Resolve to be encouraging and spread positivity at work and at home.
7. Practice self love. Stop judging and criticising yourself, make Valentine’s Day a day where you take the time to appreciate your good qualities and pat yourself on the back for getting through another year. Nurture yourself with a flower bath, a yoga practice, meditation or a heart warming mug of cacao. Make a plan to make self care a habit. if your diet isn’t great commit to choosing healthier more nourishing options, if you smoke consider stopping, have a haircut or makeover, exercise regularly. Whatever makes you feel good, healthier, happier and loved.
8. Buy the Big Issue and let the vendor keep the change.
9. Buy Valentine’s Day chocolates or healthy treats for your team at work so that you can all celebrate the day together.
10. Compliment people. If you think the sales assistant at the checkout has nice hair don’t keep it to yourself, tell her. You may just brighten up her day.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Written by Susie Vandi