It's that time of year again, when the corporate machine whirs back into action after a brief lull following last year's Christmas finale, giving us the first installment of the commercial calendar: Valentine's Day.
February 14 is supposedly an 'ode to love', however, as is symptomatic of our capitalist society, it is really just a pink fluffy incentive to spend money on pointless plastic destined for landfill.
The main problem with this celebration of 'all things love', is not the sentiment, it's that it is the antithesis of what love truly means; warped out of all recognition from that which it is supposed to honour.
Love is not a card embossed with italic script, picturing a cute image and rhyming couplets. Love is not an overly priced box of sugar loaded chocolate in the shape of hearts. Love is not gigantic stuffed toys and the hacked stem of a singular rose.
These saccharine depictions of love distract and distort from the true meaning of the word. They are a symbol of the lies and misrepresentation that mass marketing relies on, a ploy entirely devoid of any love. This is not to say that there shouldn't be a day devoted to love, but it should at least attempt to do justice to what is the most powerful force in the universe.
Here are 5 reasons to boycott the 'shop bought' version of love on Valentine's Day and what to celebrate instead:
For the love of earth
Most of what you end up buying in the shops for Valentine's Day will ultimately wind up in landfill. True love encompasses the planet which sustains all life. If our actions 'in the name of love' are detrimental to the environment, then it cannot be a true expression of love. Boycott the shops this February 14 and make something instead, or find other more sincere ways to demonstrate your feelings for that special someone.
Not true love
Why not celebrate a true reflection of the beauty of love in all of its many different forms. Of course, an act of loving kindness for a partner is traditional and can be a fun and positive thing to do. But, what about the love you share with other members of your family and your love for your pet. Valentine's Day is a good excuse to be extra loving, but everyday should be about finding ways to express your love. Not in the sappy, rose-tinted way that romance is often packaged in, but the very real kind of love which is sharing meaningful moments with close ones and doing what you can to the make the world a better place.
Real acts of love
As anyone who has ever loved, in whatever capacity that may be, knows; real love is as raw as it is beautiful. It can be messy, inexplicable and break you, whilst also being the only thing that truly matters and that makes you whole. Our relationships with people and the world around us is ultimately what makes us human, not the material things we buy and give. Make Valentine's Day about celebrating the real love in your life and being grateful for the support you receive and the lessons it teaches you, but also reflecting on the quality of the love you provide others.
Give time, not gifts
Commercialism relies on propelling the myths about how material items are the key to fulfillment. Billions of pounds each year is spent on marketing, which hinges on our inherent fears and fools us into thinking that the answer lies in what you buy. This is purely false. So, instead of giving extravagant gifts as a Valentine's present make the effort to do something together, or cook your loved one a meal instead.
This extends to friends and family as well, think about those who you've not contacted in a while and pick up the phone. Make time for relatives who are possibly lonely or you know would love an impromptu visit. You will wind up feeling far more satisfied; once the heart shaped balloons in the shops have deflated and Easter grabs the batten in what is a relentless consumerist relay.