Queer Martha's Queer Ideas for Celebrating Valentine's Day
Updated: Aug 4
Happy February everyone!
We made it 1/12 of the way through 2016, and I am proud of us.
Of course, as soon as February enters our field of vision, everything around us turns pink, white, and red. Yes, it is Valentine's Month again, and there is nothing you can do about it. I actually really like the concept of Valentine's Day. It is in the same boat with Mother's Day and Father's Day for me - sure, you should be celebrating your mother and father all year long, but it is nice to have a day to be really intentional about it. It's fun to have a day that encourages you to be really intentional about celebrating your love.
And, guys, I totally get that not having a default Valentine is not fun at all and it feels like every store window is pointing you out as a have-not, but what if this year we put down all the pressure and decide to define love in the broadest sense? Remember when you were in elementary school and you had to give Valentines out to everyone in your class in a move that seemed to signal that polyamory is a valid option if you choose to go that route? Wasn't that fun? Let's bring back that open-minded Valentine philosophy. Just for this year try embracing Valetine's Day as a time to celebrate your love for your friends, your cats, your city, your partner in crime, your sweetheart, or all the above. There are so many options.
I hear you out there saying, "But I don't want to have to drop $100 on a mediocre meal in order to 'celebrate my love,' Lizzie. Valentine's Day has been completely ruined by consumerism and social media." Listen, I'm with you. Consumerism and social media is why we can't have nice things. And that is why Queer Martha is here to give you some new ideas on how to celebrate Valentines Day with whomever your Valentine is this year. They might not all be good ideas or fun ideas, but they should all be memorable. Here it is:
Queer Martha's Queer Ideas for Celebrating Valentine's Day
1.) Express what you can't with words alone Music is a conduit for emotions that mere words cannot express. Other times, you have the words, but they just sound so much better set to a melody. Most often, you already know what you need to say, but some live musicians playing ethnic music conveying the words for you would really drive the message home. For example, maybe this Valentine’s Day you want to tell your partner how you miss those long summer nights you used to spend together, and though the dark winter is really getting you down, you are still totally head over heels for them. Now, you could use your words and say, “Once upon a time there was light in my life, now there’s only love in the dark,” or you could hire a Polka band to surround your lover and get the message to them loud and clear with a tuba, accordion, and trombone.
Musical Valentinegrams are always a good way to jazz up your celebrations (sorry for the pun), especially musical Valentinegrams of the world music variety. You know what is better than a box of chocolates? A klezmer band serenading you with Lady Gaga, that’s what. Some groups offer Valentine specials like Polkadelphia in Philly and Six Degree Singers in Silver Spring. You should do some research on bands in your area and see if they will come out to help you tell your Valentine exactly what you need to say using the international language of song. I promise it will be a Valentine’s Day you both will remember.
2.) Embrace winds of change from the North Ever since I saw photos from my Finnish friend’s high school graduation, I have said to myself, “I wish I were Finnish.” Why? Because high school seniors get to wear adorable captain’s hats when they graduate instead of weird mortarboards. High school graduation traditions are not the only thing those Finns do right. They also managed to get Valentine’s Day right. Instead of celebrating their romantic interests, they celebrate Ystävänpäivä – Friend’s Day. They give cards and little gifts to family, friends, colleagues, and other people that they appreciate having in their lives. Why celebrate one love when you can celebrate all the love! Get yourself some Ystävänpäivä this year. While you are at it, get yourself a captain’s hat.
Side note #1: Estonia also celebrates Friend Day on February 14, so Finland is not all that special. Side note #2: Finland has a killer tourism website that makes me want to be Finnish even harder.
3.) Adopt a pet What is a better way to celebrate love than by sharing it with someone who really needs you right now? This Valentine’s Day, head to the shelter and find your furry little soul mate. Some might think your decision was rash, but they are just jealous of all the cuddles you will be getting from now on.
4.) Embrace that old French bonfire tradition Apparently, French Valentine tradition of yore had young women and young men camped out in houses across the street from each other, and throughout the day the women would call out the name of the man they wanted to be their Valentine, and the two would pair up. The men had the option of abandoning the woman who chose them if they were not pleased with the match/were sort of a dick. That evening, the happy couples would probably neck behind the church or something, and the abandoned women would build a big bonfire and burn images of the men who left them and curse their names. The tradition was eventually banned in France because the bonfires got too rowdy.
For the sake of heritage preservation, however, I think we should bring back the Valentine’s Bonfire. This February 14, I encourage you to build a giant fire, toss in pictures of things you don’t like to fuel the flames, and yell curses into the night sky. Bring croissants with you because you are a conservator of the intangible history of the French people.
5.) Do something you actually love Don’t just celebrate the people you love – celebrate the things you love to do! Get outdoors and reignite your love of nature. Take yourself out to the movies to nurture your cinephilia. You love cheese? Go to the store and ask a stinky hunk to Brie mine, Valentine. It’s your day to celebrate your love. You do what you want to do.
6.) Get a new hobby Why not show some love to your own beautiful self and learn a new fun thing to do on your next date night with yourself? Sign up for a pottery class or join a rock climbing gym. For the rest of your life you can look back and say, “Valentine’s Day 2016 is when improv comedy and I started seriously dating.”
7.) Channel your feelings into a masterpiece So, Valentine’s Day causes a lot of anxiety for some people. If you are one of those people, why don’t you attempt to tame your anxiety by throwing yourself headfirst into a tedious project that will take all of your focus away from how much you hate Valentine’s Day? Lose yourself in a pointless project! Now, there is no reason not to be festive while you dive into a mind-numbing project, though! Let’s take some inspiration from Chinese Valentine tradition and carve a melon into a work of goddamn art. I have never tried this, and it looks like a whole ton of concentration and perseverance is necessary – the perfect antidote to sad Valentine feelings!
The Chinese festival that is equivalent to Valentine’s Day is actually in the summertime when melons are plentiful. If you are totally going to try this out – and I applaud you – you might need to find a more seasonal medium. How about you carve a carrot or an apple instead? Nothing says, “celebrate love” than a beautiful carrot sculpture that you made by channeling your negative feelings into your vegetable.
8.) Host open mike night in the privacy of your own home Don’t go out on Valentine’s Night. Just grab your friends, your lovers, and some bad poetry and start snapping your fingers. I promise you this is weirdly very fun. If you have a microphone that you can plug into an amp, you will really be in business. Ani DiFranco/Tegan and Sara lyrics work really well for at-home-open-mike night.
9.) Rearrange your furniture Sometimes what you really need on Valentine’s Day is a change. In that case, you should move all your furniture to the middle of the room and create a walkway around the room’s perimeter. Another option is to decree that your living room will now be your bedroom. Change your life this Valentine’s Day. Move your furniture around.
A less committal option is to simply reorganize your pantry. For this project, I leave you with two words:
10.) Human scavenger hunt Remove yourself from Valentine’s Day altogether by becoming an anthropological observer. Throughout the day, try to find the following people:
A person incorporating hearts into their wardrobe in a subtle, stylish way A person totally going for balls to the Valentine walls (a la #12) A person who is going to make a Valentine’s Day marriage proposal A Finnish/Estonian person who just wants to celebrate Friendship Day A person with a secret admirer A person that handmade their own Valentines A person carrying around Valentine’s balloons A person who is also celebrating their birthday today A person who will write a poem for you A person who does not realize it is Valentines Day
11.) Buy a plane ticket somewhere you never thought you would go Why not? Love is unpredictable. You are, too.
Train or boat tickets count, too. In honor of Valentine’s Day being the impetus for this spontaneity, you should probably go here.
12.) Wear a giant heart costume all day long Here at Queer Martha headquarters, we believe you go hard or you go home. The best way to really embrace the insanity that is Valentine’s Day is to just go for it, dammit. You should buy this and wear it with pride all day long. Remember that amazing animal that you just adopted in Idea #7? I bet she wants to dress up as a little love bug and celebrate love right along side you. Don’t hold back. It will feel good. Or weird. But, like… good weird.
13.) Incorporate some mysteries of faith into the holiday A good way to enjoy Valentine’s Day is to make it more similar to other holidays you actually like. Are you excited about Halloween? How about Christmas? Of course you are, because Halloween and Christmas are awesome. Let’s make this year’s Valentine’s Day awesome, too. Enter Jack Valentine, another obscure European tradition that we should work on bringing to the US. In Norfolk, England, legend has it that Jack Valentine comes around on Valentines Day, knocks on the door, drops a gift on your stoop, then disappears into thin air. He’s like a trick-or-treating Santa Claus. I think we can all agree that the main thing Valentine’s Day is missing is a lie we tell to children.
No, the real thing Valentine’s Day is missing is surprise candy on your stoop. Go get a bag of pink and white Kit Kats or something and put them outside your friends’ doors. Sign it Jack Valentine. You will finally feel good about this holiday when you see your friends’ sweet, chocolate-filled faces break into a smile that you created.
14.) Invest in bedding I’m not talking silk sheets. That’s boring. If you want to have a memorable Valentine’s Day, you are going to need one of these vibrating heart pillows. Next time you wonder what all the Valentine’s fuss is, lay your sweet head on this bad boy and let it buzz you back to the realization that Valentine’s Day rocks. It that too tame for you, you wild animal? Then it looks like you leveled up to buying one of these lap pillows from Japan. You will never be alone on Valentine’s Day again. You have a lap to lie on.
15.) Stay the hell in and eat something bad for you, binge watch some Wilson Philips You want to do this anyway. Normally, however, when you stay in and pig out and stay up until 5AM belting it out with Chynna people judge you. When you do this on Valentine's Day – whether or not you are actually feeling those sad Valentine feelings – people are immediately empathetic and supportive. Take advantage of their internalized fear of Valentines Day and enjoy your date night with YouTube with no shame.
The most important thing this Valentine's Day is to remember that your love is bigger and better than all the heart confetti in the world, and that, my friend, is worth celebrating.