Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah is a former attorney turned comedian. He is co-executive producer of the annual New York Arab-American Comedy Festival and co-director of the upcoming documentary: "The Muslims Are Coming!"
Valentine's Day is terrible for two kinds of people -- those who are single and those who aren't.
For single people, the day is a disappointing reminder they don't have that "special someone" in their life. Not a fun feeling -- believe me, I've been there.
But personally I think it's worse for people in a relationship. Single people can choose to ignore Valentine's Day. However, if you're in a relationship, the last thing you want to do is ignore Valentine's Day -- believe me, I've been there, too.
What may have started out as a holiday intended to bring couples together has been transformed into a commercial spectacle peddled to us by florists, greeting card companies, jewelry stores and makers of stuffed animals.
My issue is not with being romantic or expressing your feelings to the person you love.
My issue is being required to do so on February 14. This date has zero connection to us. Each year on February 14 we are in essence commanded to be "romantic."
Shouldn't romance be organic -- sort of like a "Cialis moment"? That's the "moment" in the TV commercials for Cialis, the drug designed to combat erectile dysfunction -- where the couple is lifting a table together, their eyes meet, and bingo: It's a "Cialis moment." It may be drug-enhanced, but at least they chose the moment.
I understand that Valentine's Day earnestly purports to bring couples closer together. Great idea, but let's be honest, how many of you have had fights on Valentine's Day because of Valentine's Day?
I certainly have had my share, usually when one of us in the relationship (namely me) didn't buy a nice enough gift or put in enough time planning a special "VDay" activity -- thus, transforming Valentine's Day from a romantic evening for two into a scene from the film "The War of the Roses."
Recently I posed this simple question on Twitter: Do you love or hate Valentine's Day?
I expected to find a divide by gender: men bemoaning it and women cheering it. But the findings of my less-than-scientific survey surprised me.
For the most part, men were silent on the issue. But women not only responded in large numbers, they answered in a way I never expected: They too hate Valentine's Day.
Overwhelmingly, women were the ones who attacked the pomp and circumstance of this "day of love."
Here is a sampling of a few of the tweets I received from women:
I hate the colors, I hate cheap chocolate, I hate the pressure it puts on couples and singles, and Cupids are stupid
If you can't tell me you love me with flowers or candy on any day but Valentine's Day, see ya around buddy
To be honest i hate it cuz i dont have one!
It's one big commercialized scheme to buy overpriced red&pink crap, I never liked it nor will I ever
And then there's this woman's objection: I have to wear leopard lingerie although I hate it.
Now, it's true that some men and women did express their support for the day. But they were far outnumbered by those who lamented Valentine's Day as artificial, contrived and absurdly overly commercialized.
Valentine's Day has a muddled history. Some historians claim it was created in 469 when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 a day to honor St. Valentine. One legend contends that Valentine was a Christian martyr executed for standing up to the Roman emperor who wanted to ban soldiers from getting married. Yet another tale claims he was executed because of his Christian beliefs and signed his farewell note to his beloved: "From Your Valentine."
While a third and more accepted belief is that the holiday marks the day that "birds begin to pair," which is the day they choose their mate. So somehow because birds picked February 14 to "get it on," I have to spend $100 on roses?
This tweet best sums up my sentiments: Why program couples into thinking Feb 14 is the only day they can express their feelings to 1 another?
I would love to organize an "Occupy Valentine's Day" movement. We would hold protests outside flower shops, Godiva chocolate factories and Build-A-Bear stores.
The protests would continue until these businesses stop bombarding us with commercials or until Valentine's Day is moved -- from February 14 to February 29 so that we are only compelled to observe it once every four years.