For the love of money
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.