‘Why I believe in boycotting Valentines Day’

Can’t buy me love? Americans spent $19.7bn on Valentine’s Day last year.
by Hilary Rose

Hilary Rose is a regular writer for The Times. Her main topic of interest is the fashion industry, but she has also written about television, human behaviour, food and politics.

The cards, the dinners, the roses — it all sounds lovely. But the journalist Hilary Rose absolutely loathes Valentine’s Day. What is more, she thinks that we all secretly share her hatred.

Of all the events that happen every year Valentine’s Day is the worst. Birthdays I can live with, for the blindingly obvious reason that having one is better than the alternative. Christmas is marvellous, I love Christmas, and I have no problem with Easter, in spite of being totally uninterested in chocolate and Jesus.

But Valentine’s Day? Valentine’s Day gets on my nerves. I hate it. It’s like New Year’s Eve: the fun police are out in force, insisting you go out and have a wonderful time, when frankly I would rather curl up on the sofa with a box set of Apple Tree Yard.

Every man I have met hates Valentine’s Day, and the older I get the more I am inclined to think that the men in my life were right about everything, and I was wrong, starting with the poor chap I tried to force into a navy blazer with gold buttons when I was 22.

Valentine’s Day is not about love; it is about fake romance for the needy and the unimaginative.

To his credit, it was pretty much the only thing he ever refused me. In the course of our relationship, we went out for dinner on Valentine’s Day only once, and vowed to do so never again, and although he was extremely romantic, if he never bought me red roses then neither of us can remember it.

In contrast, the most ostentatiously romantic boyfriend I had, who showered me with red roses and declarations of undying love, turned out to be a compulsive liar and serial cheat, although I suppose there is an argument that I should blame his bad character and my poor judgment, not the flowers.

I am an equal-opportunities February 14th hater. Everything associated with it — flowers, cards, dinner — is so much nicer on any other day. Buy me flowers a week on Thursday just because you feel like it, not tomorrow because you think you have to. Just-because flowers are the best, so please do not pay through the nose for red roses. They are hugely overrated anyway, and since you ask, I would rather you waited a couple of months until pale pink peonies are in season and bought me those.

Whisk me away for the weekend because you want to, not because glossy magazines say it is compulsory.

Take me out for dinner next week, when it is not wall-to-wall rip-off, set-price menus, heart-shaped soufflés and warring couples starting stonily at their plates. One male friend of mine never fully recovered from a gruesome Valentine’s Day dinner at a restaurant that was regularly called the most romantic in London. Ten years later, he still could not walk past without shuddering, and will have nothing whatsoever to do with Valentine’s shenanigans of any sort.

The prosecution would point out that the only serious argument I had with one boyfriend, when I was in my early thirties, was about Valentine’s Day, when he forgot to send me a card. The prosecution would seem to have a point.

All I can say is that I cannot for the life of me remember why I cared. I did not approve of Valentine’s Day then any more than I do now, so the argument must really have been about something else. (The next year, the same man sent two dozen roses with a small soft toy dog attached — in-joke. Don’t ask. What can I say? I did not deserve him.)

Valentine’s Day is not about love; it is about fake romance for the needy and the unimaginative. February 15th: bring it on.

This article appeared in Times 2 on Monday February 13th. The Times very kindly allowed us to republish it in full. © The Times.

You Decide

  1. Do you look forward to Valentine’s Day?


  1. Come up with your own idea of a new annual celebration. When does it take place, and what is its significance?

Word Watch

Valentine’s Day
The origins of the holiday lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration marked annually on February 15th. Pope Gelasius I recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day in around AD 496, declaring February 14th to be St Valentine’s Day.
Showily, in a manner that is designed to impress.
Just-because flowers
Flowers that are not given for any particular reason.

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