Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 02.09.07
Stanstead, Quebec


On Valentine's Day, "Eat my shorts" takes on a whole new meaning

Of all the holidays, Valentine's Day makes me crankiest. St. Patrick's Day is close, what with people pestering me with "Why aren't you wearing green?" to which I reply, "Because I'm not Irish. Do you see me keeping kosher on Rosh Hashanah? No. So back off, O'Leary!"

Also, I'm not crazy about Ukrainian Christmas. I'd rather not explain.

But back to Valentine's Day. I get cranky because it's a day of imposed romance. If you don't do something romantic with your loved one on that day, you're a heel.

What if I'm not feeling particularly romantic on February 14? Then it would be just like the other 364 days, my spouse might say, but that's not the point.

The point is it's a racket, a scam to guilt people into purchasing the most frivolous items. It's overrated and oversold. It's like a pink Super Bowl.

Let's look at the trappings surrounding Valentine's Day.

First you have the chocolate. Nothing says "I love you" more than a box of fat and sugar. Valentine's bacon would be about as thoughtful.

In Japan, according to Wikipedia, it's the women who give the chocolate to the men, including all their male co-workers. It's expected and it can get expensive.

In fact, Valentine's chocolate is known as "giri-choko," which means "obligation chocolate." How's that for romance.

Valentine chocolates are usually given in heart-shaped boxes. Yes, a box shaped to represent a human organ. It's probably only a fluke of culture that we don't present Valentine chocolates in liver-shaped boxes.

Every year, Deb buys little heart-shaped boxes of chocolate for our kids. You pay about $12 for each box, which is designed to hold approximately three chocolates. The chocolates are usually strawberry cream. Strawberry cream is a banned substance in many countries.

Consequently, the boxes of chocolates generally go unfinished in our house. But when Deb mentioned this year that she might forego the heart-shaped chocolates, you'd have thought she had said we were canceling Christmas. Instead, perhaps we should teach our children to say, "Please pass the giri-choko."

We will also have to buy our younger children Valentine's cards to distribute to their classmates. It used to be you would give a Valentine only to the friends you really liked, and there would always be one sad (usually smelly) child who would receive none. It was pathetic but, hey, love hurts.

You can't do that now. Teachers must ensure that every child receives exactly the same number of Valentines. Otherwise the child might suffer damage to his self-esteem, which is a violation of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention.

So every child gets a card, usually something neutered of any real affection, depicting some pop-culture character (although those Hannibal Lector cards never did take off). The children then carefully gather up their cards, bring them home and lovingly deposit them in recycling.

If you need any more convincing about the baffling nature of Valentine's Day, I have one word for you: lingerie.

You can call it that if you want but it's underwear, the stuff you used to dread getting for Christmas, only skimpier and more expensive. It's awkward to buy and for the most part awkward to receive. I can't really substantiate whether it's awkward to wear, despite what you may have read in the tabloids.

Last weekend in Montreal, I saw two Valentine conventions in one: candy underwear. You had your choice of bra, g-string, garter, those weird suspender things, and something for men that I don't know what you'd call and I'd rather not think about.

The garments were made out of candy necklaces, those hard circular sugar candies on elastics. It's been a while since I had one of those but if I recall, the only way to get the candy off the string is to bite them off.


So forget all the marketed romantic junk. If you really want to show you care in February, buy your loved one long johns.