Every year the prospect of Valentine’s Day is simultaneously met with horror and excitement. For singletons the shelves stocked from roof to floor with poetic cards and an array of heart–shaped objects are a constant reminder of the void that propriety says needs to be filled.
For those with a partner it is viewed as anything from a commercialised farce to the most romantic day of the year. For students in the above groups, the mix of reactions is coupled with the dreaded realisation that should you wish to indulge in the annual festivities, it is largely impossible. Your bank account will barely stretch to another Manzils, let alone the Michelin star restaurant and bed of rose petals your other half has their eye on.
ASDA’s release of their seven pence Valentine’s card was an ironic plea to return to a non-commercialised celebration of love from one of the world’s biggest corporations. With a cover complete with an ‘Asda Smart Price’ logo and an inside message which reads: ‘my love for you is priceless’, should they have bothered? While many recipients of the card may feel cheated at the prospect of a Valentine’s gift that costs less than a Freddo, we need to ask ourselves when money became so completely synonymous with value. A spokesperson from ASDA said that the card is intended for the consumer who ‘doesn’t take Valentine’s Day too seriously but still wants to make a gesture’.
Valentine’s Day was not associated with romance until the Middle Ages when Chaucer described it as the day when every bird cometh to choose his mate. This was during the height of the courtly love tradition and the idea has since flourished: last year around 25 million Valentine’s cards were sent in the UK and 15 million e-Valentine’s cards left our inboxes. Although legends exist, Valentine’s Day is truly only founded on the belief that the world has always wanted to celebrate love and always will. As far as history can tell, the real Saint Valentine was a Christian martyr whose only professions of love were to God and his faith. The root this has in Valentine’s Day is largely lost but what we can take from it is that love is not quantifiable in gifts and must be shown through what we do.
Whether you are an avid supporter of cupid or prefer to attend an anti-valentine’s party, valentine’s day’s very ambiguous origins suggest there really is no protocol that needs to be followed. With a student budget it is easy to avoid the commercialised side of valentine’s day; luckily, love is one of those things that doesn’t require an overdraft, regardless of how much of it you dish out.