by Amalia Mobley

If you live in the United States, Valentine’s Day arrives with all its gaudy, plastic, heart-shaped dread and you have to live with the sickeningly sweet atmosphere it brings. Valentine’s is a day filled with annoyance, even if you’re not single — everywhere you look, it’s all pink and red and white.

Comercial day for love – Valentine’s is not cool

Big signs advertise tacky lingerie and even tackier stuffed animals to give to your “special someone.” St. Valentine’s Day all but loses its meaning under the capitalism< of it all: that of appreciating the people important to you, even outside of significant others. Instead, there’s entitlement in the air to give or get the biggest bouquet of roses, impractical as that may be. But is this truly the case everywhere? Frankly, it’s not. Not even close.

Spainards touch – not just on Valentine´s day

In Madrid, where absolutely no one is afraid to show off their physical affection for each other, Valentine’s Day is extremely low-key. It isn’t until someone wishes me a “Happy Valentine’s Day!” already halfway through my daily routine that I even remember. Going about my day, I see exactly one sign celebrating the occasion. I see only a handful of people carrying flowers. I see no one carrying one of those horribly shiny heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. The building I live in gives a card and a gummy candy rose to each resident. And that is all.

In truth, Valentine’s Day is not called that in Madrid. It’s called El día de los enamorados, or Day of the Lovers. It sounds genuine, warm, and sweet. Here, it’s not about the chocolate or the flowers or the teddy bears you get celebrating February 14th. It’s not a day where eye-straining decorative hearts cover every store window. From what I could see, it is nothing more and nothing less than a day to celebrate your loved ones. Sure, people still go out and do special things on a day like this, but it’s not about showing off, like in the States. And that’s something that really strikes a cord.

Of course, I don’t mean to say that in the States no one really cares about anyone else on Valentine’s Day. But there’s something genuinely beautiful about not seeing corny advertisements for weeks leading up to the date; instead, only an old man carrying a rose serves as a sweet little reminder.