Okay, I'm just going to say it: I hate Valentine's day. The obvious reason, which I usually mention when somebody asks why I'm wearing a black armband on February 14, is the fact that it's a fake. Stripped of its thin Christian veneer, February 14 basically celebrates the pagan holiday Lupercalia, which is dedicated to wolves and insanity, and which falls on the day that lovebirds supposedly choose their mates. I can get behind a wolf/insanity/lovebird holiday, but a co-opted one dedicated to a made-up saint? I'll take a pass.
To be honest, though, my real problem with Valentine's day isn't that it's inauthentic, but rather that the greeting card, floral, and chocolate industries use it as a cynical technique for generating revenue during the tough months between Christmas and Mother's day. This makes sense; after all, President's day doesn't inspire the same frenzied shopping and terrified soul-searching. Still, understanding the motivation doesn't make me any happier about the scam.
Valentine's is a day for excluding people who aren't in relationships and raising the blood pressure of people who are. For men who are dating, Valentine's day is an occasion for obsessing over the state of a relationship, worrying about where it's going, and trying to send a coded message to one's beloved. The messages generally are as follows: