Can you believe it’s time to talk about the Big ‘R’ again already? No, I’m not referring to the ubiquitous recession. I mean Romance, or at least the manufactured type generated by Valentine’s Day. As you may gather, I’m not a great believer in the feast of St Valentine. I find the whole thing quite irritating, on the whole, a fabricated and Hallmark-driven event that could easily be renamed Singles Awareness Day. A day to be reminded of your solitary existence in the world; sure God love you, with nobody to buy you flowers or chocolates.

I wonder, though, whether this year’s Valentine’s Day will be hit by that other great R, the recession. All of our bank balances are taking a hit at the moment and the competitive special offers available at the major supermarket chains would suggest people are shopping around for a bargain. So are Valentine’s Day gifts an unnecessary luxury item that people are happy to forego this year? And will people be instead opting for a cost-effective date this Saturday?

I doubt it. Because the thing about buying the obligatory choccies and flowers is that it gets men off the hook so easily. Just splash a bit of cash about and she’ll be putty in your hands, right lads? Otherwise, your Valentine might have to seek other more creative ways of demonstrating his love and devotion, like cleaning the house, doing the laundry, cooking you dinner for a month….ladies, given the choice, I know what I’d prefer. Realistically, which of you wouldn’t like to put your feet up and eat the chocolates you bought yourself, while your better half ran around with the mop and bucket?

As you’ll have guessed, I wouldn’t welcome a Valentine’s Day card. But I am enamoured by the American-based Order of St. Nick’s Alternative Greeting cards (at that features Depression-era photos from the Franklin D. Roosevelt archives. The quirky Valentine’s series features such delights as a photo of men in fedoras chatting on a street corner declaring, “Box of chocolates? She’ll be lucky to get a box of rocks from me this year.” Inside the $3.99 card it says, “Tough times call for tough love, Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Another picture shows a ragged couple cooking over an open fire in the backyard. This card says, “William took Martha out to eat for Valentine’s Day.” Inside it says, “I’ll take you some place nicer.” Other cards from the company include quotations from philosopher Nietzsche, with one declaring, “Ah women, they make the highs higher and the lows more frequent.” Nothing like a bit of irony to lift the mood.


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If you are going to celebrate Valentine’s Day in your house, why not do as the Japanese do and encourage equality of the sexes. In both Japan and South Korea, the Valentine’s Day tradition is for women to give men gifts, particularly chocolate. Then on White Day (14th March) men who received chocolates on Valentine’s Day are encouraged to return gifts to women.

And on 14th April South Koreans recognize Black Day, when males and females who didn’t have partners in February and March console each other by wearing black clothes and eating noodles in black sauce. Can you imagine it, you sicken yourself eating all that choccie in February because you have nobody to send it to, your sugar levels take a serious drop in March and then you cry into your bowl of black noodles come April. Still, what a great opportunity to go out and meet other singles.