Unless you’ve been living in a cave atop an isolated mountain, you can’t have escaped the barrage of commercials, news stories and print ads for the upcoming Valentine’s Day. Like most holidays that have evolved into a mass orgy of marketing, this day has been designated as a good time to push the economy out of its current slump. For those involved in romantic relationships, there is the added pressure of coming up with a present that demonstrates in a satisfactory manner to the object of their affection that they are loved to a sufficient degree worthy of them. Lest anyone be disappointed, florists, restaurants, and candy makers jack up the price of Valentine’s Day specials to at least three times their usual rates so we can all visibly see how much we’re loved.
Reported on NPR radio, the most unusual Valentine’s Day story this year comes out of Japan, where a particular company has instituted a policy whereby employees who have been jilted by their love are entitled to a bereavement leave. For those 25 years of age and under, this is one day. For those 26 to 40 – 2 days, and those over 40 – three paid days off. I suppose they think that those who are youngest will not be suffering long, as they will find another mate soon, whereas those who are oldest face the bleakest prospects, and deserve the most pity. The story didn’t go into detail as to how long the relationship had to exist before one was eligible for this benefit, nor did it say what happened if everyone in the company felt the person was much better off without their love interest.
This had been a uniquely American celebration for a number of years (I had never heard of it until I moved to the States) but thanks to the globalization of the economy, my son now reassures me that it has caught on in France, and if Hallmark has it’s way, will soon be embraced throughout the world. Don’t misunderstand me. I believe in love, in showing it visibly to my beloved, not just for one day, but throughout the year. I only have a problem with the way Madison Avenue manipulates people into believing that caring and gift giving are totally synonymous, and that the amount spent on the gift is a direct reflection of how much you care. And in case you’re wondering – yes, I’m not totally immune to this kind of manipulation even as I’m cognizant of its existence. Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!