As promised in my introduction last week, I want to start off my advice-giving with a discussion of some V-Day options. As a Jew, I am used to holidays coming with very clear scripts for how to observe them and how to glean meaning from holiday celebrations. But Valentine’s Day is different. Since it is technically a holiday marked to honor a Christian saint, many Jews may not want to do anything at all. But the day and the cards and the colors and the candies may feel unavoidable or even normal or natural. Some people may like it—other people may feel crappy and left out, since so many kinds of sexuality and relationships are left absent from our cultural scripts of the holiday. Wherever you fall this year, consider these diverse options for observing this holiday and finding meaning within it.
1. Hold out for Tu B’Av over the summer. It’s our very own Jewish Day of Love.
2. Find community or irony online. Check out stories of both observing and eschewing the holiday at Occupy Valentine’s Day. I also like to weed through some of the boring or offensive jokes at someecards to find something that makes me laugh. You can add your own submissions at both these sites as well.
3. Engage in anti-violence activism. Eve Ensler, the creator of the Vagina Monologues, has turned Valentine’s Day into V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls. Check it out at vday.org to find the local events in Boston. Alternatively, start your own conversations about the connections among romance, violence, and Valentine’s Day.
4. Date yourself. Whoever you are, and whoever else is in your life, your relationship with yourself is primary. What would you do if you had a few hours all alone, just to pamper and pleasure yourself? Engaging in this process can be a great opportunity to get to know what you like and what feels good to you, whether that’s physically, emotionally, romantically, sexually, or all of the above.
5. Connect with friends. Romance is about flirting and laughing and treating each other ridiculously well—we can share these joys with friends as much, if not more, than in other kinds of relationships. Think of Leslie Knope’s Galentine’s Day. Or make up your own evening-of-love with your people.
6. Support a worthy cause. WBUR (our very own local public radio station) sells roses and chocolates as a Valentine’s Day fundraiser. Or, thinking about the themes of Valentine’s Day, you could make a donation to an organization that does local education and activism to expand our right to love freely and safely. For example, Keshet works for the full inclusion of LGBT Jews in Jewish life in Boston and throughout the country. The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center gives survivors and their family and friends the resources they need to heal, raise awareness, and work to end sexual violence through social change. If you have other orgs to recommend, please leave a comment below.
7. Try DIY romance. Maybe there’s someone special you want to shower with affection right now. But you want to do it in a way that feels right for you, shows this person who you are, and communicates your feelings in a genuine way. For some, arts-and-crafts provides a fun and impressive option. For others, it’s cooking or baking. Personally, I’m not really good at any of those things, but I give a fine back massage. It totally depends on what you like to give and what your sweetie likes to receive.
8. Spend quality time with someone you love. And that could be your date, your partner, your best friend, your family, or a new coworker who you think is really fun. As discussed above, this could also mean time with yourself. Enjoy!