Valentine’s Day is traditionally the day for committed lovers. However superficial it may be, it’s a holiday that celebrates romantic love. Flowers, chocolate, candlelight dinners, jewelry, and all of the rest of it may or may not matter to you, but in our society, they clearly seem to matter to many.
Jokingly, for single people, Valentine’s Day is the day that used to be about hyper-awareness over one’s single status. This became such a societal joke that “Single Awareness Day” became the alternative holiday to celebrate on Valentine’s Day, for single people. It’s not a joke anymore, despite the fact that some think it’s still facetious. But a day after Valentine’s Day, some people now celebrate Single Awareness Day! (There’s even a website explaining the holiday.)
So how does one go about celebrating Single Awareness Day exactly? Well, it mirrors Valentine’s Day in that it’s a day for gift exchanges and special dinners. But rather than celebrating with a significant other, it’s single people giving other single people gifts and enjoying each other’s company. But if you would rather spend money on yourself – buy yourself jewelry and candy or send yourself flowers – that is a perfectly acceptable thing to do on Single Awareness Day.
Still, let’s get real for a minute here: Doesn’t all of this sound kind of weirdly sad? (And not just because Single Awareness Day is S.A.D. as an acronym.) I mean if couples don’t need Valentine’s Day to celebrate their love, do single people need a day to celebrate their singleness? Sure, it might be an act of self-love and a resistance to Valentine’s Day and all the commercialization that goes with it, but when it’s all said and done, do single people really need this holiday?
One might be tempted to say, “No.” One might even be tempted to go further than that and say that both Valentine’s Day and Single Awareness Day are equally bad. But let’s consider why alternative holidays exist.
Valentine’s Day is a mainstream holiday now, and one in which the religious history of it is so far removed from how it is commemorated currently. Tradition has it that a Catholic priest named Valentine went against Roman decree and wedded young men and women at a time when marriage was outlawed. (It was outlawed because it was believed that single men made better soldiers.) Some people may have some kind of idea of this history and some people have no clue, but either way, today’s Valentine’s Day celebration seems to have absolutely nothing to do with history.
Valentine’s Day exists as it does now alongside capitalist structures. Capitalist structures that promote particular traditions and that commodify love, and demand that it be perceived a certain way. Thus, while Valentine’s Day is especially dedicated to romantic love, it is not the only holiday that centers on couples. Think about it – New Year’s Eve, and even Thanksgiving and the December Holiday season center couples as much as the traditional family. It’s why many single people dread the holidays – being asked about your love life by relatives you see twice a year isn’t fun for anyone.
Perhaps Single Awareness Day, despite its joking roots and seemingly superficial ideology, serves a much larger purpose than we think. In societal structures that celebrate couples and perhaps even encourage their formation to the point that people feel an incredible amount of societal pressure to be in relationships, and potential social anxiety and inadequacy when they may find themselves without a romantic relationship, Single Awareness Day can be an act of true resistance.
On February 15th, if you’re single, dare to be single and proud. And not just this day, but also every day because one of the loves you’ll always need throughout your life is the love you give to yourself.