By Sara Valle-Martínez & main illustration by Miguel Arévalo
I was scrolling through a mattress company’s website this week and it made me feel quite lonely. You may ask yourself why. Well, truth is that I’m single and this company was clearly targeting couples.
“The roll-over effect doesn’t happen with our range of organic mattresses. You won’t be rolling towards your partner. The perfect mattress to ensure you and your loved one can have a perfect night’s sleep.”
How depressing is that? Is someone not entitled to purchase one of their mattresses if they’re alone at night, going to bed with their laptop to watch their favourite boxset or with a book?
The thing is that Valentine’s Day has existed for centuries. It’s said its origins come from the Roman festival of Lupercalia in the 6th century B.C.
But Lupercalia was actually celebrated on the 15th of February and it was a rather bloody, violent, and sexually charged celebration. Sky’s History says that there was also some animal sacrifice, random matchmaking and coupling in the hopes of warding off evil spirits and infertility.
So then, where did all this come from? And who decided that single people shouldn’t celebrate if it used to be a festivity for matchmaking? Let’s not count the animal sacrifices, but doesn’t that call for single people?
I decided to meet up with an old friend who was getting married on Valentine’s Day. It was all a coincidence because the register office only had Mondays available. She laughed it off when she was telling me over a big yummy pizza.
Angélique Renaud, 29, said: “I never really got to celebrate it when I was younger. Then, when I started dating my soon to be husband, he never really wanted to celebrate it either… It’s just a commercial celebration. I mean, it’s nice if you want to celebrate it, but I don’t give it much more thought.”
Next to her was sitting her die-hard friend Clara Queval. They met each other when they were in high school and, after travelling around the world, they decided to move all the way from France to London.
“I think it’s important for romance and for your relationship with your partner to actually do something,” said Ms. Queval. “I think it’s good that people are encouraging that by creating Valentine’s Day.”
But there it is. It’s all a creation, isn’t it? An excuse to sell chocolates, stuffed animals and whatever is fluffy and pink or silky, shiny, sparkly, red, or heart-shaped – and apparently mattresses, too.
Same goes for Galentine’s Day. It was created by the character Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) from the TV series Parks and Recreation back in 2010.
Galentine’s Day celebrated on the 13th of February and it was supposed to be a breather for coupled and married women. Ladies celebrating ladies, “hos before bros”, “uteruses before duderuses”, “ovaries before brovaries”, and all that jazz, as Knope would say.
But of course, companies have pounced on the phenomenon and once again it’s turned into a marketing gimmick. Oh, what we do for the mint.
Ivy Soho Brasserie in London decided to do a Sex and the City brunch, where you’re supposed to “channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw”. That is, be a female columnist who writes about sex and relationships and has brunch with her fancy and fierce friends in fabulous New York City.
Vicki Moreno, 26, who works there as a waitress said: “I think the event is aimed at women because it’s supposed to empower them instead of feeling bad for being single. It’s to celebrate friendship.”
But friendship day is on the 30th of July or so does the internet say. So, then again, what’s the real purpose of celebrating Galentine’s Day and why is it targeting women? Is it another chance to make us feel bad for being “spinsters” while men go to the pub for drinks or is it an excuse not to be lonely?
Ms. Moreno added: “I think men feel uncomfortable celebrating friendship in a romantic way.”
It looks like there’s an excuse to celebrate almost everything. And, don’t get me wrong, that is fantastic. But is it really necessary to have pancake day? Garlic day? And back to work day? Especially the last one.
Even online shops like Etsy are selling merchandise against Valentine’s Day with the words “Happy consumer-driven and trivial interpretation of love day” under the keywords “anti-valentines”. Whatever increases the sales.
But there’s no need to be bitter. At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you.
“It’s nice if you want to celebrate with your friends. Go ahead, it’s nice. But I don’t understand why they have to give it a name. You could do that any other day,” said Ms. Renaud.
“I think it’s important to celebrate friendships. Friendship is as important as love,” added Ms. Queval. “It’s kind of the same as Valentine’s Day.”
And that is it. It’s all the same. Just celebrate your friends and family and the rest of your loved ones, whichever day it is. And treat yourself, too.