Valentine’s Day for this year has come and gone, but the candy lingers, and so does the idea that the holiday is all about romance. At least here in the U.S., if you don’t have a romantic partner on Valentine’s Day, or if you have one but things aren’t going well, you’re often made to feel like something is wrong with you.
But Valentine’s Day wasn’t always about romance, and even now, you don’t have to get swept up in the societal norms. So in case you were feeling left out this past Valentine’s Day, here are some alternatives you can think about for next year.
#1 – Celebrate Like the Finnish
Finland was late to recognize Valentine’s Day as any kind of special day – they didn’t start until 1987. This might be because, unlike some other European countries, the Finns aren’t into expressing themselves in a touchy-feely way. For example, they don’t greet people with kisses on the cheek, and hugs aren’t for strangers.
So even though they’ve started celebrating Valentine’s Day, it’s with their own twist. Instead of romance, the name for the day in the Finnish language is “Friendship Day.”
For them, this is a day to celebrate friends. Perhaps it’s with a small gift, a card, or doing something together. It’s not meant to be a big occasion but simply something to honor those who are important in your life.
So if you have single friends or even friends who aren’t much into celebrating the romantic aspect of Valentine’s Day, this might be a good option.
#2 – Celebrate International Quirkyalone Day
Maybe you’ve never heard of International Quirkyalone Day (IQD), but it’s been celebrated on February 14 in over 40 cities since 2003, and for those looking for something different, it has a lot to offer.
Unlike Valentine’s Day, IQD is intended as a celebration of any kind of love. This could be the love of friends like in Finland, but it could be the love of family or even love of self. Since it doesn’t have all the marketing trappings of Valentine’s Day, you can make of it what you will – and this doesn’t exclude people with partners. You can still celebrate romance on IQD day, but in a way that you want without following the expectations of Valentine’s Day.
The IQD website has a list of 10 ways to celebrate, including:
The goal of IQD is to help you remember to value yourself, and to cultivate your individuality, whether you’re single or in a couple.
If you’re looking for other ways to value yourself, here’s another article with three ways to fall in love with yourself. These include self-acceptance and laughter, which are good practices any day of the year.
#3 – Ignore It
Of course, there’s nothing that says you have to celebrate anything on February 14! You could choose to go about your day as usual, without noticing or doing anything to recognize it.
Admittedly, you might not be able to escape it completely, especially in certain places. Here in Portland, for example, we have a Valentine’s Day bandit (although really multiple bandits are involved) who puts hearts up all over Portland.
To be honest, I don’t mind seeing those because they’re rather quirky and colorful and fun. They seem more designed to spread love all around, not to make me feel bad about being single (which I don’t anyway).
But other than seeing the hearts up around town, I didn’t do anything on Valentine’s Day that would be different than any other day, and I was perfectly fine with that.
Find What Works for You
Valentine’s Day has changed a lot over the years, and it’s turned into a big opportunity for companies selling greeting cards, flowers, candy, and dating services. That commercialization can make it very difficult for those who don’t fall into the expected standards and norms of being in a relationship.
The good news is, you don’t have to go along with this. If you’re in a relationship and you really like the romance of Valentine’s Day, go for it!
But if not, then figure out what works best for you, whether it’s celebrating alone, with friends, finding your own way to share the day with your partner – or just treat it like any other day.
What are your thoughts about Valentine’s Day? I’d love to hear them! And whatever you do or don’t do on that day, I hope that you can practice some ways of loving yourself year-round.