Valentine’s Day: Fun vs Forced

Some people view February 14th as a retail holiday devised mostly by marketers to sell flowers, candy and jewelry – and they’ve done a good job: The National Retail Federation says Americans will shell out $18.2 billion on the holiday. Even Valentine humbugs can find it in their hearts to have some fun by trying different ways to celebrate the day – whether you’re comfortably coupled or splendidly single.
Give one (or more) of these ideas a whirl, and spark some new traditions!

VALENTINE VOLUNTEERS

Love comes in many forms, so consider branching off from romance into charity and friendship for those who need it most. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Contact local shelters and ask how you can help. Send flowers or baked goods to nursing home residents, and letters of appreciation to their caregivers.

CELEBRATE CULTURES

Love is celebrated around the globe with unique rituals and traditions. In Japan, February 14th is a day for women to give men chocolates…not the other way around. In some parts of the U.K., buns with raisins, caraway seeds and plums are baked in honor of “Birds Wedding Day.” Women in South America wear their hearts on their sleeves (literally) by pinning the name of their love interests on their shirts.

CUPID’S CLUES

Scavenger hunts don’t have to mean a city-wide wild goose chase. You can do one in your own home with 5-6 decorated bags that hold the clues, with the last one containing whatever treasure you want to surprise the hunter with – candy, gift certificates, etc. Whether you make it a family affair (it’s great for kids) or something just for your beloved, it’s a fun way to send your favorite amateur sleuth on an awesome adventure.

TOURIST TRAPS

Since Valentine’s Day is already regarded by many as being corny, why not celebrate it by engaging in things that are unabashedly cheesy (but admittedly fun)? Check out all the places in your city that you consider to be just for out-of-towners, and pick one to visit. If you live in New York City, take a carriage ride in Central Park. Minneapolis? Do some people watching at Mall of America. And the more touristy pictures you take, the better.

PARTY WITH PUPS

According to a global poll by Reuters/Ipsos, 1 in 5 people would rather spend Valentine’s with their pet than a partner. But no matter how much you love Fido, there’s no need to kick your human honey to the curb. Spend the afternoon at the pet park before the two of you head out on the town, or find a restaurant with a dog-friendly patio and dine alfresco. Or invite several of your canine-loving friends and their pups to join you at home for a toast and some celebratory snacks (don’t forget the heart-shaped dog biscuits).

KEY DATES IN FEBRUARY:

  • FEBRUARY 2: Groundhog Day
  • FEBRUARY 4: Super Bowl Sunday
  • FEBRUARY 13: Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday)
  • FEBRUARY 14: Ash Wednesday
  • FEBRUARY 14: Valentine’s Day
  • FEBRUARY 15: Singles Awareness Day
  • FEBRUARY 19: Presidents Day

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