Love, today, as any other day

spicesIt’s a beautiful day today in Chronotopia. That’s the day when She will put on a gorgeous white dress and meet her Beloved, and they will get married, as they have dreamed for so long. But they won’t be alone in their celebration of love. They will be joined by ten thousand other couples on the city square. You see, all of them will be married at the same time and all will pronounce their vows together, in a chorus. That’s because today is the Day of Love in Chronotopia. It’s the official day when couples declare their love for each other, so all have to get married on that day. As an added bonus, they’ll also have their anniversary on that same day. How romantic, right?

If you are scared of this dystopic prospect, don’t panic. I am just describing our own Valentine’s Day, in a figurative way. It’s the officially established day when lovers have to – they are expected to – declare their love for each other in a visual and ritual way. They have to do that collectively, perhaps in a public space like a restaurant, and their mutual affection and happiness will be evaluated by the glances of others. Love has become a public and a collective affair, instead of private and personal moment.

On Valentine’s Day you are supposed to dress red, display love and, especially, buy something. And you are doing it always in comparison with the rest of the crowd, since it is a collective celebration of love, of course. If this sounds distasteful, that’s because it is.

Think about it. Couples’ happiness will be measured by the restaurant where they celebrated, by the gifts they bought for each other and by the smile they mastered on that specific occasion, no matter how stressful that day happened to be and how doubtful they may be about their feelings in that period of their lives.

Let’s take the gift exchange. There must be a card with a red heart. The gift must be romantic: either a piece of jewelry or something chocolaty. But since chocolate-buying has become such an ordinary everyday event nowadays, the Valentine’s chocolate must be more expensive if it has to show specialness of the occasion. In the end, it turns out that special out-of-the-ordinary occasion needs to be marked by spending money.

And this is a holiday that requires tuning yourself to special state of feeling. On other holidays you recognize, celebrate, remember. On this day, you have to feel in a certain way. How do you command a romantic feeling? On a specific day? A romantic gesture is most beautiful when it is spontaneous and personal. Everyone has their own occasions for that in the story of their own lives: an anniversary, a homecoming, a day of personal appreciation. It doesn’t have to be a mass action. A collective event. A commercially established convention.

Love is so multifaceted, after all. Let’s celebrate it every day.

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One response to “Love, today, as any other day

  1. Eliva, I was thinking that this post was the beginning of a short story. That would be a really interesting premise for sci-fi — but you make a reasonable case for the over-control of valentine’s day into conventional displays of love.

    To tell the truth, we don’t always celebrate, though this year we did go out and you can read a restaurant review I wrote up after our valentines date at my website. I agree with you that the whole “competing for gifts” thing is a bit strange. On Bill Cammack’s blog I read about how women are in competition to see who can get the biggest bouquet … http://billcammack.com/2009/01/29/top-ten-valentines-day-donts/
    I just can’t get into that.

    Nevertheless, I do think it’s nice to have a day to be reminded to start or maintain a love relationship. The biggest opponents of valentines day, I fear, are those who don’t have a sweetie.

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