Valentine’s: “I do” or “I don’t”?

Happy Valentine’s! Groan? Yes, we all know the two sides of that V shaped-fence. (Which, incidentally, wouldn’t make a very good fence.) Some people love Valentine’s; it’s a time to show you care, there’s nothing wrong with romance, etc. etc. Others are stalwartly against it, citing the millions that retailers make at commercialising that most basic human emotion (Clinton Cards’ 2011 turnover was >£364m, since you asked), as well as segregating those who are loved up and happy to show it and those who, well, aren’t.

I argue that we should celebrate love, and yes, while there may be 364 other days in the year to do so, it’s nice to have a day set aside especially to commemorate your partner. Should we abolish Mother’s Day and Father’s Day just because we have the rest of the year to show our parents we love them? Anyway, let’s be honest, Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year when those lacking in the romance department in their relationships can feel special (ahem, expect a bunch of flowers).

And is there really any harm in spreading and celebrating love? It’s seems likely that this decade will continue the 21st-century trend of declining monogamy. Divorce rates seem to be ever on the increase, and according to Guardian’s datablog, in 2009 (the most recent year for available statistics), ‘a total of 231,490 couples tied the knot – down from 232,990 in 2008 and the lowest total since 1895’. Is it possible that good old-fashioned romance- like good old-fashioned marriage- is simply going out the window?

In any case, if you need to add a bit of spice to your existing relationship, or perhaps would like to snare yourself a date, how about one of using these unorthodox methods? Life’ compiled a list of interesting courting rituals from around the world, some of which I’ve kindly adapted for when you yourself are on the prowl:

– ‘In rural Austria, young women do a ritual dance with apple slices lodged in their armpits. After the dance, each gives her slice to the man of her choice, and he then eats it.’ This one isn’t too dissimilar from your standard Friday at Ocean: simply pop the lemon from your drink under your ‘pits for your favourite Rhianna track, and then proffer it to the man of your dreams. Voila!

-‘Among the Kreung tribe in a remote region of Cambodia, parents build a “love hut” for their daughter when she reaches her mid-teens. Different boys spend the night in the hut with the girl — sometimes more than one in the same night — until she finds the one she wants to marry. Divorce is unheard of among the Kreung, so couples need to know what they’re getting into.’ Every time you pull, bring the lucky guy/gal back to your parent’s house, and explain to them that you don’t believe in divorce and “want to know what you’re getting into”. More than one person in the same night will demonstrate extra perception. They’ll be impressed with your foresight and astuteness.

– ‘After reaching puberty, young men and women in traditional Hindu Balinese society must undergo a ritual tooth filing. In an elaborate ceremony overseen by a Brahman priest, their upper canines are filed down to the level of their incisors, a painful ritual that is believed to rid them of evil tendencies such as greed, lust, anger, jealousy, and intoxication. With those out of the way, the young people are considered ready to marry.’ So, you’ve just seen your ex cop off with someone better-looking than you? Go to your relevant AU captain or society president and repeat your initiation ceremony- the more painful the better. Then go home and get your flat mate to stamp on your face. Then set fire to your hair. This will, of course, rid you of any jealously and ill-feeling, and you’ll be ready for marriage (or the hospital).

Some people do feel genuinely vitriolic about Valentine’s Day, and recent years have seen the rise of several ‘Anti-Valentine’s Day’ campaigns, from parties to rallies to websites. If you’re sick of Valentine’s Day and want to share the hate, then you might like these kooky cards from, which feature pleasant designs such as this:

London is au fait with Anti- or Alternative-Valentine’s parties, and you’re spoilt for choice this weekend, whether you’d like to go to a gothic vampire Anti-Valentine’s Party or one of many quirky alternative events throughout the capital. Notts hasn’t been too far off the mark, with The Maze throwing an Alternative-Valentine’s Party last weekend as advertised by LeftLion.

As well as the hundreds of beautiful restaurants or bars you could choose for a Valentine’s date, tonight Nottingham has a range of nights and events which would make a quirky alterntive to a standard ‘date’ night, or (dare I say) a cool night out with a group of mates. Whether you fancy a Skalextric Night at the Sir John Borlase, Huw Stephens at the Bodega Social or the NME Awards Tour at Rock City, check out Skiddle’s Valentine’s events and other events sites for something different. (And lads, if your girlfriend is willing to spend her Valentine’s at a Skalextric night in a pub, trust me, she’s a keeper.) However you feel about Valentine’s Day, grab someone who makes you smile and go and do something fun.

Finally, from the brilliant Awkward Family Photos, here is a slideshow that will guarantee to make you feel good about Valentine’s, whether it’s because you can feel oh-so-smug about your chic date later on, or because you can laugh out loud at the frankly ridiculous things love makes people do:

Sian Boyle



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