It’s official, Valentine’s Day is no longer the sole domain of nauseating couples. No longer will the unattached cower at home with only the TV for company, but instead throw off the shackles of hundreds of years of single-stigma. They’re owning the day for themselves. And about time too, many will cry!
Look at it this way: according to recent ONS figures, there are currently about 10.2 singletons in the UK (after we subtract those pesky 4 million cohabitees), 4 million divorcees and 3.3 million widowed folks, none of whom are going to be particularly thrilled at the prospect of the pubs and restaurants being monopolised by a hand-holding, eye-gazing, footsie-playing minority who have managed to clamber off the sofa and put on ever-so-slightly-dated-clothes for their annual date-night en masse.
But hey, not to stereotype singletons or couples, sometimes we married folk hate Valentine’s Day too! I know, shocker! I hate being taken advantage of, having restaurant prices hiked up when I just want to scoff a burger, having my usual drink re-Christened from French Martini to Velvet Vanilla Valentine Fuzzy Bear. I can’t stand plush toys and I don’t want my food/drink to make me think of them. The husband and I tend to pick the day of the year when we’re having the most fun (which incidentally is seldom February 14th) and declare that V-Day.
Yet, in response to the inescapable rampage of Valentine’s Day pressure to be out, to be seen as one half of a couple and the presumed pity heaped on anyone who does not conform (be they couple or not), many establishments have decided to hedge their commercial bets and pander to the Anti-V-Day crowds instead of the usual suspects.
Last weekend, while I was in London I noticed no fewer than five Anti-Valentines events, the most high-profile of which was being held at Bounce restaurant by the popular Guilty Pleasures DJ night. But also the craft beer mecca The Draft House and the hush-hush speakeasy Candlelight Club were using this as their theme. While the format seemed to involve being single and generally celebrating the fact, the prices were still weirdly high and the drinks still had funny names.
So while the idea of reclaiming February 14th for the masses is appealing, if you really hate Valentine’s Day as all these events claim, you’ll hate its commercialisation and may resent that anti-Valentine’s events are fleecing singletons in the same way they have fleeced couples for years.
That’s not to say that a small act of rebellion against this exclusive celebration is stupid. The way we feel about valentine’s day tends to change from year to year. I remember February 14th 2007. I was 24, ridiculously single and in San Francisco with my Dad (who kept ducking off to ring his girlfriend). The commercial onslaught had not yet reached the UK so I was overwhelmed by the scale of Valentine’s in the US. I was browsing in Tiffany’s (of all the days to do this…) and accidentally strolled into the ring section. Over-eager women were pulling along their boyfriends who wore a permanently shell-shocked expression (they’d obviously clocked the prices). It was pretty amusing as far as people-watching goes.
‘Why should they have all the fun?’ I asked myself and headed upstairs to the (much cheaper) other sections. There, I purchased my singleton ring, a lovely heart that reminded me to love myself whether anyone else echoed that sentiment or not! It has stayed on my left hand, only shifting to my thumb upon my wedding day a couple of years later. And there it shall stay, a Valentine’s reclamation for evermore.