So, is it all hearts and flowers? Here's the view of a Valentine's baby, from our Marketing and Comms Manager, Rachel.

Here's me on my 1st ever Valentine's Birthday, indulging my lifelong love of books. 

I once heard an old wives’ tale that said babies born on snowy days had a lifelong love of snow. I wondered then, following the same logic, that if this was the case, then does being born on Valentine’s Day make me a hopeless romantic? Another thing I've heard is 'if you were born on St Valentine's Day, you should be called Valerie'. Hmmm. Do people born on other days get all this guff? Or is it just the magic of 'V' Day?


People often say to me that it must be a rubbish birthday to have, ‘as you probably don’t get a separate Valentine’s present.’ No, I say, I quite like it. I always get a card whatever happens, which was particularly useful at school, when potentially painful Valentines Days were offset by the fact I was made a fuss of anyway.

But why should it be painful? How is it that on this day the world feels so sharply divided into the romantic haves and have nots, that it’s an alienating day for anyone who’s single, and that people who are in relationships are pressurised to show their love through extravagant presents?

As another birthday approaches, it feels to me like the day is more commercial than ever. I’ve noticed for a while now that the cards appear in the shops on New Year’s Eve, as soon as the Christmas stock is whisked off the shop floor. Crikey, I think, as the red aluminium hearts reflect my panicked face back at me, ‘I’d better get the birthday organised.’ When in fact that is ridiculous, I have 6 weeks to go. But it feels like the red hearts are inescapable.


The first time I was baffled by the ‘meaning’ of Valentine’s Day was when I was 17, and my then-boyfriend gave me a giant teddy, on top of birthday gifts. I’m pretty sure I did a little moue of disgust whilst wondering out loud what the hell I was going to do with it. He also bought me his and hers matching half-heart necklaces. You get the picture. I mean, tastes were different, and it WAS 1997, but needless to say, the relationship didn’t last much longer than that. But the sad thing was he’d spent so much of his hard-earned Saturday job wages on these gifts. And I hated them.

Why did he think that spending money on stuff was the way to show love? Or that a 3 foot giant teddy bear was the perfect gift for someone on the cusp of adulthood? Because of commercial pressure that told him he had to, and he responded without thinking of what would actually mean something to me.

Since then, I’ve learned that experiences are better than things. I’d take a birthday brunch with friends, and a walk in Hyde Park in the winter sunshine, over teddies and flowers any day.


The commercialisation of the day creates other problems for us Valentine's babies. Celebration dinners are out, as everywhere is booked and all the prices are ramped up to set menu costs. Your mates don’t want to fork out twice as much just because of the date, and possibly don’t want to sit at a table scattered in rose petals munching along to ‘That’s Amoré’.

And there’s the fact that some of them feel the pressure to have their own Valentine’s – they can’t come out because they need to be with their loved one somewhere, doing something, on that day. What so different about a random Wednesday in February? You won’t love them more then than the Wednesday after (hopefully!). It’s an effective gimmick to get you to spend more.

So, it doesn’t look like I’m much of a romantic! I hide it well. I love schmaltz as much as the next person –I just don’t think you need a special day to do it on. But I’m not a complete Valentine’s Scrooge. I’m all for celebrating love.

So what can we do about it? Well first you can check out these alternative Valentine’s gift ideas that my colleague Abi has put together – there are some great ideas of what you can do in terms of experiences to have rather than things to buy on the big day.

Why not bin off the idea that you need a partner to go with, and invite a group of friends instead? There’s already a big movement called Galentines Day on 13th February which celebrates female friendship. The backlash is beginning!


This year for the big day, I’ve booked myself a spa day and I’ve asked my friends and family to contribute towards it rather than buying me anything. I don’t need any stuff, I need time to relax. I’m going to be a Mum in under 3 months’ time and time on my own chilling out is already precious.

My phone will be off and it will be DELICIOUS.