Valentine’s Day is celebrated (by some) on 14February

SO, it’s that time of year once again when the powers that be (namely store owners) urge you to loosen your purse strings to cough up your hard earned dough in the name of treating your particular loved one. Still smarting from your Christmas debts? Well, here’s another opportunity for bank managers to rub their hands together as we are encouraged more and more to define our love through the size of the price tag dangling from whatever gift your credit limit can allow.

Celebrated here in Finland under the moniker of Ystävän päivä (Friend’s Day), the original celebration has its roots in early Christian history as far back as 500 AD. These roots have long been pulled from the ground, however, with Pope Paul VI deleting it from the Roman calendar of saints, though some still use the day to maintain a religious observance.

Maybe the Pope was on to something, however, when you look at the fact that Valentine’s Day is the largest seasonal card-sending occasion of the year, next to Christmas. Always good to keep an eye on the competition!

Recent years have also seen a number of Islamic countries around the world growing increasingly uncomfortable with their populations’ increasing interest in this celebration, perceiving it to be at odds with the traditions of Islam. Taking their disapproval one step further, Iran has banned all forms of promoting Valentine’s Day altogether in 2011 and is threatening legal action against those organisations that continue to do so.

But, no such luck in the US this year where it will once again be business as usual, including the somewhat sad statistic that around 15% of all American women write cards and post them to themselves each Valentine’s Day – that’s a lot of forests being pulped in order to massage wilting egos. Oh, and let’s not forget about man’s best friend, or cat, or humble hamster – some 3% of all Valentine’s Day cards find their way into the small paws of pets. Hmm.

Anyway, for the rest of us, is it so that all of a relationship’s love, growth and experiences should be condensed into one single day? What about the other 364 days of the year? Then again, after building up enough reserves of romantic credit from this one day, your partner should retain enough to cling on to until the moment they finally pull Cupid’s arrow from their ear and realise that a simple dash of originality usually adds sufficient spice to a relationship!

James O’Sullivan