Valentine’s Day, hard on the heels of carnival frollicking this year. Have we more energy to bother with it? Parents are probably just keen to see children back at school after exams and mid term and will be mustering energy to think, let alone think of romance. Kid-free couples, singles and young-at-heart in body and soul may be less care-worn and keener to pack in some commercialism with the romance.
Nothing it seems deters the ardent couples or couples-to-be in Malta. Against a backdrop of the past year or so of the divorce debate and its denouement in law, and the current pre-election politicking on family issues, same-sex civil union and more, issues of personal freedoms and the role of coupledom in society reign larger than ever. So, what of the romance of any union as we wade through all the legalistic and manifesto talk?
Valentine’s will be celebrated here as it usually is. Roadside stalls have been much in evidence selling flowers, all red of course, along with heart-shaped balloons sporting corny slogans. Roadside billboards, when not sporting political party promises, are now filled with jewellery ads. Commercialism reigns even if commitment might not last a lifetime for us all.
This most unsaintly of ‘saints’ days is long awaited by local businesses. Hotels are among the leaders in offering the romantic among us weekend breaks and lavish, and at the same time value-for-money romantic meals. Always a tricky one that – balancing cost with care: too cheap isn’t romantic as the half forking out the cash will seem cheapskate if the meal is too much a bargain. Love comes at a price. One five-star has just run a Valentine’s video competition with the winner receiving a weekend break and runners up meals. The entries are an eye-opener into the love that envelopes our islands.
With social media, the Valentine’s Day business can reach out further. Of course, others on social media step in to parody the efforts; frequently, well-intended romantic videos, such as pre-nuptial videos, do the rounds with unintended captions attached.
But if you’re paying for your romantic meal out rather than winning it, pause a moment to think whether the night of the 14th is the best day to choose. I had the misfortune to dine a few years back in Gozo on the 14th, completely forgetting it was Valentine’s. The atmosphere was slushy, the music and set-piece menu for ‘Valentine’s Day’ even worse and the meal came after a very long wait and at a very high price. In a restaurant that was normally excellent. That was on a Saturday. Perhaps some of us will be spared this year thanks to V-Day falling on a Thursday and in a week of bad weather. The less romantic, or may be the more romantic among us, will be huddling up to our gas heaters ensemble, in an effort to keep warm.