Oh Massive Valentine’s Bill: A Life Sign of Romance?

Ask me about Valentine's Day?
Ask me about Valentine’s Day?

If humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?

Recently there was somewhat of an uproar regarding a debate that took place live on stage in Kentucky. It was between Bill Nye, the Claims Adjuster (just kidding, The Science Guy) and Ken Ham, the guy who built the Creation Museum (where dinosaurs walk with cavemen), the site of the debate. The two giants of their respective fields, science and “science,” debated the concept of evolution versus Young Earth creationism.

Reactions to the debate ran the gamut between the few who thought Ham won, the many who thought Nye won, and the some who thought Nye was lending unearned credibility to Ham by even showing up.

This made me think of Valentine’s Day, because obviously I’m a romantic.

It occurs to me that if you ask most people under 30 about Valentine’s Day, they’ll say something along the lines of “it’s a fake holiday about nothing for idiots to waste money on.” Maybe they say it less cynically, but who really cares about the “holiday” only vaguely related to any actual religion?

Yet the annual National Retail Federation (NRF) survey of Valentine’s Day spending is predicting we’re going to spend $17.3 billion on the holiday this year. Normally you wouldn’t hear me arguing against healthy economic expression like that, but if we’re going to drop $17 billion, let’s make it for something cool. Like a rocket to Mars, or maybe a sequel to Big Trouble in Little China.

Valentine’s Day is Young Earth creationism. On the one hand, all but the most religiously zealous see it as plainly ridiculous; yet statistics show, nobody wants to piss off God (or their girlfriend) by not kneeling before the altar.

Oh, did I mention that it’s a hugely sexist holiday? The only way I can illustrate that point is by a hypothetical; can you imagine a holiday marketed almost exclusively to women (without ever explicitly saying so) as an occasion on which they had to buy utilitarian objects for their husband/boyfriend lumberjacks to use in their vocation?

But back to Valentine’s Day as Young Earth nuttery; in the debate, Ken Ham estimated that 7,000 types of animals literally boarded Noah’s Ark, which was a real gigantic wooden boat that survived a worldwide flood a few thousand years ago. This claim was summarily disproven by Nye, jeered by anybody with a rough grasp of physics, and basically repeated by the millions of dollars poured into advertising aimed at convincing men that their significant other needs them to spend money on tacky paraphernalia and “make a night of it,” to prove their love.

We all know it’s nonsense.

Cue the cries of “Curmudgeon!” “Party pooper!” “Insipid traveler on well-worn turf!” Fair enough, but this parallels another element of the Ham/Nye Battle Royale; one could argue, and many did, that by participating in the debate, Nye had already lost. Debating creationism as a form of science is like debating lacrosse as one of the major professional sports. Similarly, the idea of musing on the value of Valentine’s Day as a holiday will surely have people rolling their eyes on a Sisyphusian scale.

The most recent Pew Religion poll shows religiousness declining to historic lows with people under 30. The NRF poll shows Valentine’s Day declining a whopping 16% among people 18-24 from just last year, when the bleak economic outlook was supposedly to blame for low numbers. This year, despite the supposedly improving economy, total Valentine’s Day spending will decline by 7%.

Going along with the show on Valentine’s Day is the same as politely suffering a giant display of a smiling caveman standing next to a smiling Brontosaurus. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that; I personally politely suffer all sorts of things, from chatty strangers in Starbucks to Natalie Portman movies.

But the reaction to the existence and legitimization of the Creation Museum is truly uncompromising. If you polled the campus youngsters who statistically show the same apathy to both creationism and Valentine’s Day, the visceral reaction you would get on the former would dwarf the nonchalance on the latter.

One would almost think it’s the biblical literalism that’s costing us billions.

But the lady doth protest too much, methinks. If we didn’t sort of believe in the legitimacy of Valentine’s Day, we wouldn’t be spending an average of over $133 (from people who say they celebrate the holiday) on buying stuff for it. The NRF survey also shows it’s not just the ladies getting love from their gents. 22% of people buying, will be buying for their friends, 12% will waste money on co-workers, and an astounding 19% will flush money down the drain on their pets.

And as Abraham begat Isaac, Valentine’s Day begat Sweetest Day, a real holiday (more or less) created in Cleveland in 1922. Celebrated in the Great Lakes region on the third Saturday in October, the holiday is aimed at gals getting stuff for their fellas, and it was created by a committee of 12 candy makers to sell candy and celebrate love.

And as Isaac begat Jacob, the Bill Nye/Ken Ham Debate begat the DMX/George Zimmerman celebrity boxing match, where once again we hoped to see the anointed one beat up on the scarecrow of our paternalism.

And as Jacob begat Joseph, oh you get the point…

Unless of course you think Sweetest Day is the product of evolution… But then I must borrow a debate tactic from Mr. Ham, and ask you this, smarty-pants science folk:

If Sweetest Day evolved from Valentine’s Day, why is there still Valentine’s Day?

by Ygal Kaufman