Anti-Valentine’s Day Sentimentality
Anti-Valentine’s Day is the love child of two powerful dynamics, (1) a discontent over being bereft on a holiday celebrating coupling (whether the discontent is generated by an unrequited longing for romance or by the perception that single people are considered deficient or pitiful in this culture) and (2) a revolt against the commercial and arbitrary nature of the Valentine’s Day holiday.
When those two forces hooked up, they produced a particularly feisty progeny.
The description in this excerpt from Be My Anti-Valentine: Rallying Against Cupid’s Corruption by Rebecca Lazarenko1 is representative:
Customarily reserved for bitter singles and broken hearts, anti-Valentine’s Day sentiments are slowly being echoed by everyone from the voluntarily unattached to the happily married.
Anti-Valentine’s Day and the newly created Singles Awareness Day are following in the footsteps of anti-commercialism giants like Buy Nothing Day and D-I-Y Christmas. The out-of-nowhere attack of these un-holidays is hitting corporations where it hurts the most – espousing the existence of inherent narcissism in such red-letter days and attempting to reverse their ever-broadening commercial appeal.
The movement has divided itself into two consequential occasions: Singles Awareness Day and Anti-Valentines Day – both conveniently falling on Feb. 14.
“The exact founding of Singles Awareness Day is unknown,” said Matt Brick, creator of singleawareness.com, a relatively new information portal. “Our culture is definitely weighted towards couples, but in the [last] few decades the rise in divorce rates and other changes in society have fueled more single people than ever before.”
Quite simply, Singles Awareness Day acknowledges an overriding pressure for companionship and acts as a cautionary tale to think of those who are truly alone. At once a celebration of independence and widening resource guide for the bored bachelors and bachelorettes, this movement also asserts the goal of a more conceptual humanitarian effort, suggesting a detachment from purely romantic love and the need to metaphorically embrace those excluded from mainstream holidays.
Let’s Go To The Googlistics
Employing that seductively pseudoscientific, speciously specific, statistically suspect, simplistic sociological signifier, A Google Search for “X” shows ________ hits, one finds that civilization’s search engine of choice returns 9,540,000 hits for “Anti-Valentine” and 128,00 listings for “Anti-Valentine’s Day.”2
“Singles Awareness Day” garners 33,600 hits, and “Singles Awareness” registers 37,200 listings.
My own doubts about the value of the validation by Google hits principle notwithstanding, it does seem legitimate to submit, predicated on Google ubiquity, that Anti-Valentine’s Day has grown up to be a well-known, popular idea who hangs out with the less attractive Singles Awareness Day, who, no doubt, makes good grades, has a very nice smile, and is well liked by all the other holidays.
A few Google-index outliers, …
“Valentine’s Day sucks” triggers 20,500 Google hits, “Fuck Valentine’s Day” gets 6,580, and “Hate Valentine’s Day” turns up 40,600 references. For those searching for the road less traveled, “Die, Valentine’s Day, Die” has only 13 recorded instances of internet usage. 3
The Message From The Marketplace
One can purchase Anti-Valentine’s Day t-shirts, buttons, labels, candy, and, especially, greeting cards with messages of varying vehemence.
It seems noteworthy that the Anti-Valentine’s Day greeting card link goes to a site (chosen as an example because it was the first one I found on a search) that is not the work of some wacky blogger but a joint project of Yahoo and American Greetings. According to This Valentine’S Day, Say It With Bitterness,4 American Greetings began selling Anti-Valentine’s Day in 2006.
The same article reports that CafePress, which handles t-shirts, coffee mugs, windbreakers, caps, and almost anything that can be labeled, carried 22,502 anti-Valentine’s Day designs in February 2007.
Several sites feature lists of Anti-Valentine’s Day gifts. The #1 spot on the InventorSpot.com version of this list follows.
It could have been worse. I didn’t choose the USB-powered humping dogs.
This item, usually listed as the “EX Knife Holder” made several Anti-Valentine’s Day Gift Lists:
And, what’s cuter than a stuffed animal with “Love Stinks” emblazoned across it?
Nuance also seems optional, if not contraindicated, in the similarly numerous lists of Anti-Valentine’s Day songs.
Oddly, although those playlists run the full range from Love Hurts by Nazareth to Love Stinks by J. Geils Band, they rarely feature songs directly lambasting Valentine’s Day itself.
And there are a number of those.
How about Valentine’s Day Wank (The Beautiful South) or Valentine’s Day by Hello Saferide with this final (really final) verse:
So I hope you are sorry and I wish you the worst
And that’s all I had to say.
I think we have fish sticks if you need dinner
This year, on Valentine’s Day.
Got a feeling this is going to be Valentine’s year.
Roses are red and violets are blue, sugar is sweet and I’m leaving you.
Thea Gilmore’s Razor Valentine adds that special something (terror) to a traditional celebration. The last verse of the love ballad follows:
I love you like a whisper
I love you all alone
I love you like a murder, babe
I’m burying the bones
I love you like the last shot
At the bottom of the bottle
I love you razor valentine
I love you razor valentine
And, check out Jewel’s unambiguously named tune, I Hate Valentine’s Day.
YouTube has batches of Anti-Valentine’s Day videos, including entries in an Anti-Valentine’s Day poetry contest. One self-categorized Anti-Valentine music video carries the full name, “Pitchfork in your Eye (anti Valentine)” and features concretely congruent lyrics expressing the singer’s longing to, well, jab a pitchfork in his ex-lover’s eye.
Most striking, however, are five or six videos from a professional party planning company that provide instructions for throwing a Anti-Valentine’s Day Party. This example demonstrates setting up and playing the “Heartbreaker Game.”
I find that set of videos striking, by the way, because they make it all but impossible, I maintain, to ignore the fact that the Anti-Valentine’s Day movement, ostensibly founded on anti-commercialism, …
… has, in fact, been co-opted by commercialism.
Before the Anti-Cupids launch that first volley of arrows my way, I should point out that I am sympathetic to their cause. After all, I’ll be sucking champagne solo on Valentine’s/Anti-Valentine’s Day. And, I certainly like to think that I am as mindlessly oppositional as the next guy. Heck, I even admit that the societal-based notion that life isn’t worthwhile unless you have that special someone gets on my nerves – and I’ve had two special someones.
Nonetheless, I’m not convinced that one can present oneself as a Ralph Nader outing commercial holidays by wearing a G by GUESS Open Season Anti Valentine’s Day Tee ($22.50 at Amazon) to a professionally arranged Anti-Valentine’s Day party after receiving a Anti-Valentine’s Day card manufactured by American Greetings.
Again, I stand ready to join the legions of the lonely in storming the Bastille of culturally-endorsed oppression of singles. Nor do I have a problem with folks making a buck by planning parties, selling greeting cards, or hawking t-shirts.5
Anti-Valentine’s Day is,
qualitatively, albeit not quantitatively,
as commercial and, come to think of it, as arbitrary
a holiday as Valentine’s Day
The Irony-laden Finale
A favored tactic in the propaganda onslaught against Valentine’s Day has been to disparage it as the prototype Hallmark Holiday. 7
I wish I could close this post with a Anti-Valentine’s Day card, i.e., an Anti-Hallmark Holiday card, sold by Hallmark.
Well, I guess wishes do come true sometimes. It turns out that Hallmark has an ecumenical approach to holidays, whatever their derivation.
Clicking on the graphic will open a new window at the Hallmark Cards interactive site where the operation of this card (and of other Hallmark Anti-Valentine’s Day cards) can be viewed.
- Be My Anti-Valentine: Rallying Against Cupid’s Corruption by Rebecca Lazarenko. The Brock Press. 2/13/07 [↩]
- The Googlistics for “Valentine’s Day” are especially tricky. “Valentine’s” with an apostrophe, for example, generates different results than “Valentines” without an apostrophe. And the quotation marks are important. Without them, Anti-Valentine’s Day returns 6,200,000 hits. [↩]
- For the record, Google shows 248,000,000 hits for ["Valentine's Day" -Anti] of the non anti- sort (i.e., searching for the phrase “Valentine’s Day” and eliminating any sites that contain “Anti”). And, Valentine’s Day is not the only holiday suffering backlash. “Anti-Christmas” gets 10,400,000 hits, “Anti-Thanksgiving” returns 2,490, “Anti-Labor Day” 65, and “Anti-Arbor Day” has 31 hits. [↩]
- This Valentine’S Day, Say It With Bitterness By Allison Linn, MSNBC Feb 18, 2007 [↩]
- I take a large in most t-shirts carried by Amazon. [↩]
- AlignMap is my professional web site and blog that focus on patient compliance, also known as adherence to treatment [↩]
- Wikipedia describes a Hallmark Holiday as “a disparaging term, used predominantly in the United States, to describe a holiday that exists primarily for commercial purposes, rather than to commemorate a traditionally significant religious or secular event.” [↩]