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Christians should join in the Valentine's Day celebrations, says Hannah Cooper
As holidays go, it’s unlikely to win a popularity contest.
Christmas and Easter would be prom king and queen without even trying.
Halloween would get an honourable mention. But the 14th of February is not one of the ‘cool kids’; a gawky outsider that often provokes irritation and the odd eye roll.
For singletons it is a reminder that their ‘other half’, ‘soulmate’, ‘made-for-each-other’ person is still missing. The idea that they are incomplete without a significant other is underlined in pink glitter surrounded by candy hearts and accompanied by a healthy dollop of pity with a side of self loathing.
But it isn’t just the unattached who dread the annual Valentines clamour. Over the years I have heard many colleagues (mainly men it has to be said) decry the festivities for being too commercial, for forcing romance, for being unnecessary, expensive and yet another thing to remember!
So singles and couples alike gleefully take aim at the ‘hallmark holiday’, for being contrived, outdated, painful, irritating, cloying, and generally pointless.
And now I am going to confess an unpopular opinion:
I find this sad. And, as Christians, I think we all should.
Because Valentines Day is about love.
Yes, it is dressed up in advertising, but at its core it is about appreciating the people you love, telling them how you feel about them, and showing them you care.
"But we could do that any day!’" I hear you cry.
Yes we could. But we don’t!
We are human, imperfect, and are more likely to stare into our smartphones than our lover’s eyes.
Handholding will always take second place to housework, and love letters are far more time consuming than a Facebook ‘like’.
Love too often takes second place in the modern world. We are time-poor, anxious, stressed, cynical, and oh-so-tired at the end of the working day.
And it is not just romantic love which suffers. How often do we tell our friends and family that we love them? How often is a direct message or retweet a poor substitute for a phone conversation? How much time do we make for those we love the most?
Jesus tells us to love our neighbours as ourselves. That this is one of the most important acts humankind must do. To love one another. And yet when one day in our calendar is devoted to this emotion we huff and puff and blow the hearts down.
And no, it doesn’t need to be a commercial wash out - not if you don’t want it to be. Hand-make cards or gifts. Give each other your time and affection instead of roses and chocolates. Share memories, hopes and dreams. Laugh. Cry. Stay in or go out. See friends, family or ‘the one’.
It doesn’t matter who, or how, but as believers we owe it to God, ourselves and each other, to show our love and not hide it under a bushel.
One day a year is not a lot - let’s love, and make it count.
Hannah Cooper is an entertainment journalist
Opinions on the latest trends, topics, news and culture from a Christian perspective.