For the love of money

Friday - - Humor - Suresh Menon is a writer based in In­dia. In his youth he set out to change the world but later de­cided to leave it as it is.

E very year as Valen­tine’s Day ap­proaches, we hear of tra­di­tions: how love is all around us, Cupid, choco­lates and why love is all we need. Of course, if you’re a reg­u­lar reader, you’ll also be aware of an­other tra­di­tion: no Valen­tine’s Day is left un­touched by this col­umn.

I have noth­ing against the celebrations. What I ob­ject to are the his­tor­i­cal mis­takes that yet an­other gen­er­a­tion is be­ing force-fed.

Valen­tine’s Day has lit­tle to do with that third-Cen­tury Ro­man saint named – by a happy co­in­ci­dence – Mr Valen­tine. It has ev­ery­thing to do with the 20th­Cen­tury pa­tron saint of mar­ket­ing. We don’t have a name for him yet, al­though such names as Saint Fer­rero Rocher, Saint Hall­mark, Saint Tif­fany and Saint Rose Bou­tique have been sug­gested.

This is partly be­cause, strictly speak­ing, there is no pa­tron saint of mar­ket­ing, al­though Saint Bernar­dine of Italy, who lived in the 15th Cen­tury, comes close. He is the pa­tron saint of ad­ver­tis­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, pub­lic re­la­tions and al­lied ac­tiv­i­ties like event­man­age­ment, space sell­ing, ad­ver­tis­ing hoard­ings near pub­lic build­ings and agony aunt col­umns.

Per­haps I ex­ag­ger­ate (there is a pa­tron saint of ex­ag­ger­a­tion, too, but that need not de­tain us here). Still, there is a strong ar­gu­ment for cel­e­brat­ing Fe­bru­ary 14 as Bernar­dine’s Day.

Valen­tine’s Day is old-fash­ioned and in­volves such old-fash­ioned val­ues as pri­vacy, per­sonal dos and don’ts, in­di­vid­ual likes and dis­likes and prac­tices in­volv­ing only the cou­ple con­cerned.

Bernar­dine’s Day, on the other hand, is for the gen­er­a­tion that lives its life in pub­lic, for whom noth­ing is au­then­tic un­less it is on Twit­ter and which be­lieves that there is a com­mon set of rules and reg­u­la­tions that all cou­ples must fol­low if they are not to be left be­hind.

Luck­ily, we have been prac­tis­ing the tra­di­tions for a few years now. These in­volve any­thing from buy­ing jew­ellery and gifts one can­not af­ford, to send­ing

A pub­lic cel­e­bra­tion of a pri­vate emo­tion al­ways struck me as strange

one an­other soppy mes­sages that keep the greet­ing cards in­dus­try afloat.

There is an el­e­ment of com­pet­i­tive love, too. I once heard one cel­e­brant tell an­other, “You sent out only one card? How lame! I sent 30.”

A pub­lic cel­e­bra­tion of a pri­vate emo­tion al­ways struck me as strange. And send­ing so many cards is like in­dis­crim­i­nately send­ing con­do­lence mes­sages – even to those who have not lost any­one near or dear re­cently. Like a death in the fam­ily, love is a pri­vate thing.

Now, of course, it is pos­si­ble to send your best wishes to half of the world armed with only your mo­bile phone and a pair of healthy thumbs. All of which is great, I sup­pose. But let us call it by the right name. Happy Bernar­dine’s Day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.