Cancelling Valentine's Day


St Valentine's Day is always painful for frustrated lovers. It cruelly reminds them of what they want but have not got, and may never get.

Some go to great lengths to attempt a partnership with the person who is the object of their unrequited desire. Others work at rekindling a relationship which their impulsive actions may have ended. 

An example of the latter is actor Matthew Newton. The Murdoch tabloids reported last week that 'a forlorn hope of rekindling his destroyed relationship with actress Rachael Taylor allegedly led Matt Newton to bombard her with dozens of text messages'. 

Impulsive behaviour that disrupts or ends a relationship frequently does not extinguish the love that was its binding agent, at least from one side. The one whose behaviour was recognised as impulsive often goes away to 'deal with his (or her) demons', with a view to re-establishing the relationship, or not making the same 'mistakes' next time.

'Demons' is a convenient catch-all term that is often used by those reluctant to venture into what is dangerous and largely unknown territory. It is nevertheless quite apt. It does not carry a stigma, and it implicitly recognises the role of mental illness in the break up of some relationships (and indeed the inability to form them, if that's the case). It leaves intact the image of fundamental goodness that attaches to each human person. 

Moreover 'dealing with demons' suggests courage, rather than the cowardice that has most likely been linked to the impulsive behaviour that has killed the relationship. Some people 'fall' in love, and this leads to a relationship that sustains the rest of their lives. Others must climb a mountain, stumbling along the way, before reaching the right combination of love and relationship that will give them what they want out of life.

Such courage is more worthy of celebration than the idealised and commercialised version of love associated with the day. As it has evolved, St Valentine's Day has it that those who are 'in love' are winners, while those 'out of love' are losers.

We need to cancel St Valentine's Day and find a 'real' saint, one whom we know dealt effectively with the demons that were getting in the way of his or her object of desire. There are many candidates, and this rationale has a genuine Christian ring to it. Much more than the vapourous Valentine, who does not even exist on the Calendar of Saints.

Michael MullinsMichael Mullins is editor of Eureka Street. 

Topic tags: michael mullins, Valentine's Day, Matthew Newton



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Existing comments

Spot on comment Michael. A most worthy substitute is St Joseph. He took the angel's call right on the chin and did everything that could be done to support Mary and Jesus
Frank Hornby | 14 February 2011

It depends on what Mr Mullins means by 'the Calendar of Saints'. St Valentine is no longer on the General Calendar of Saints, true, but he is listed in the latest edition (2005) of the Roman Martyrology, the official list of the saints recognised by the Church of Rome. St Valentine would be listed on local calendars and any church dedicated to St Valentine will be celebrating today as a solemnity. The same goes for St Christopher - removed from the General Calendar as part of a general tidying-up but still in the Roman Martyrology. St Valentine and St Christopher - pray for us.

Note how in secularist culture, St Valentine has been 'un-canonised'. The 'Saint' part has disappeared. 'Saint Valentine's Day' has become 'Valentine's Day'. Secularists cannot deal with Christian memory or any suggestion of the sacred. A classic example is the Saturday before Easter Sunday - 'Holy Saturday' which the press routinely refers to as 'Easter Saturday', unable to bring themselves to use the word 'holy'. Holy Saturday is the Saturday before Easter Sunday; Easter Saturday is the Saturday after Easter Sunday. Accuracy of terminology is sacrificed on the altar of the narrowminded rigidity of secularists.
Sylvester | 14 February 2011

Michael you are negative again.
Why use Matthew Newton as an example. He has been in trouble for being violent to his partners before and has a mental illness. Find another model, but do your research first.
Bev Smith | 14 February 2011

'Others must climb a mountain, stumbling along the way, before reaching the right combination of love and relationship that will give them what they want out of life.' The pity is that those of us who do so after having first married the wrong person are officially rejected by the Catholic church when we then find the right combination of love and relationship and marry our lovers.
Anon | 14 February 2011

Valentine's day, commercialisation of Christmas, hot cross buns around most of the year. So what? Instead of being ponderous do-gooders ( puritanism never leaves us) let people be people. I know the bulk of people are thoughtless fools we have to keep in line. But we become very boring in the process.

And the word saint has disappeared. Well with the proliferation out of the Vatican the word has become devalued.A return to local "saints" acclaimed by their community might be relevant. Which seems to be from where Valentine sprang.
Brian Poidevin | 14 February 2011

'The vaporous Valentine'. What a phrase, Michael - congratulations. With your permission, I'll make it the title of my next novel (should I ever write one).
David B | 14 February 2011

Michael I don’t agree with your suggestion that one who lacks courage is coward. Courage is a gift that flies in the face of fear: in my experience fear stems from a lack of adequate understanding concerning a particular situation. When applied to relationships it means waiting until you know more: firstly it’s important to be self -aware and have a high consciousness of the other person’s context (one can never fully appreciate the personal history of another). Impulsive behavior is the stuff of emotional immaturity, a trait that is indicative of underdeveloped integrity. When it comes to romantic love it seems that matters of the heart can overtake rational thought, therefore it is very important to have personal integrity (a good dose of emotional and spiritual intelligence) as a basis for lasting relationships. As you suggest in your article, many demons get in the way so those who set out on the pathway to integrity will need some courage to spur them onwards - towards wholeness and integrity. It is a journey well worth the trouble. Remember: “Your integrity will affect your destiny; never leave any place, especially your house without it.” C. E. Hodges. In today’s society I see Valentines Day as a secular observance that has hijacked ‘romantic love’ and turned it into an economic commodity.
Trish Martin | 14 February 2011

I think St Valentine's Day has already been 'de facto' cancelled. Most media and commercial references I have seen to The Day over the past week have been to Valentine's Day.

The word 'Saint' and all it might signify has been simply dropped.
Uncle Pat | 14 February 2011

Kids love Valentine's Day...
obviously you're over 20 :)

AZURE | 14 February 2011

my, we are serious about life's petty pleasures. I suppose we feel better by being so superior. Then like Montaigne i am probably too indolent for vehement agitation about life's amusements.
Brian Poidevin | 14 February 2011

Individualistic and dominating images of woman versus woman, woman versus man reflect a complacence as to the problem of violence.

We turned on the TV on the weekend and a sitcom scene of yelling disturbed our lightly anxious household, stirring a negative atmosphere, rather than helping us.
'So you think you can dance' works people hard, but fails to encourage the beautiful couple dance which is light and fun - such that Astaire and Rodgers would do ( No wonder couples find it hard going.
Personally, I was drawn to desire my match more than anything else by time taken to converse with mature couples in my family and beyond. I noticed that when a man voluntarily desires his wife's hidden strength, she is not forcing this. It is a real and true phenomenon of love.
Louise Jeffree | 15 February 2011

How about St. Joseph. patron of families ,familes equate with love don't they
irena | 17 February 2011

Valentines Day? Yes. Get rid of it. It's a lot of old cobblers'. Utter nonsensical money making twaddle.

Lynne | 17 February 2011

If ever a person demonstrated the love for someone that we would want to celebrate it would be the father of the earthly Jesus. For Jesus to be fully human and well as fully divine he must have needed the mentoring as a man that only a father in a loving relationship with a woman would offer.
Graham Warren | 20 February 2011


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