Valentine's Day is here.
As if planning for it isn't normally stressful enough for the parties involved, this year's Valentine's Day is during the Chinese New Year weekend, which complicates things even further.
After all, many Chinese couples will now have to make some difficult decisions: who would you rather piss off? Your family members, or your significant other?
This could very well be a situation that I should be dreading given that I am attached, but I'm in decidedly high spirits.
That's because I don't intend to celebrate Valentine's Day on Feb. 14 this year.
In fact, I'm only going to be celebrating it on Aug. 14, a full six months later.
Celebrating Valentine's Day a week after was still great
This seemingly strange decision to celebrate Valentine's Day months after the actual date was made some time after Valentine's Day last year.
I had to work overtime, and was unable to spend it on a nice night out with my girlfriend.
It was even more unfortunate as it was our first Valentine's Day together, so naturally, I felt the pressure to do something special for the occasion.
Thankfully, my girlfriend was extremely understanding, and we made it up for it by spending a relaxing weekend in Johor Bahru the following weekend (weeks before travel restrictions began to kick in).
Although missing Valentine's Day (especially on the first year) may seem taboo for some couples, the experience made me realise that there was actually nothing intrinsically special about Valentine's Day.
Yes, it's meant to be the day of love, and it's supposed to be "special".
However, we had our very own Valentine's Day the week after, and we managed to have a splendid time nonetheless visiting escape rooms and eating Lok Lok.
Given the great time we had, it was on the very same trip that my girlfriend first gave this crazy suggestion.
"Why don't we just celebrate Valentine's Day on a different date? Like, every year?"
Why not, indeed.
There's always a mad rush during Valentine's Day
If you really think about it, there are many merits to not having to plan a special day for you and your partner on Valentine's Day itself.
After all, whenever Valentine's Day draws closer, things tend to get extremely hectic.
You have to order flowers, and hope that the overwhelmed florists will send your order in time, and in good condition.
Finding a place to meet is also tough, given that most places are often booked out in advance. You may find yourself googling yet another list of "best places to bring your girlfriend for a romantic date", just to realise that others were way ahead of you and have already made reservations.
Even if you've secured a place for your date, you're not out of the woods yet. Doing anything spontaneous on Valentine's Day is likely to be a nightmare.
Suddenly feel like grabbing dessert? How about a long queue at your favourite ice-cream cafe?
Want to grab a drink? Sorry, the bars are all full.
How about a stroll down the beach to have a romantic time gazing at the stars?
Please. As if you're the first to think of this. Have fun sitting on the crowded beach with a dozen other like-minded couples.
You save money by not celebrating on the day itself
In addition, there are many practical reasons for why celebrating Valentine's Day on another date is a good idea.
After all, it's an open secret that doing anything on the day itself is going to cost you an arm and a leg.
Flowers are more expensive (supply and demand, folks), and some upscale places even try to restrict you to a special Valentine's Day menu, rather than allowing you to order ala carte.
The catch, of course, is that the set meal is often more expensive, given that it may include typical Valentine's Day staples such as a nice bottle of wine and some chocolates.
If you feel like going on a relaxing staycation (especially these days, since travel isn't an option), you will likely find that prices won't be cheap during this time as well.
Pro tip: if you want to save some money, but still celebrate close to the date itself, try planning a date a few days after Valentine's Day itself.
You'll often find that items such as flowers and soft toys may be on sale, and if you're lucky, you may even snag a full bouquet of flowers left behind at the void deck by someone who got rejected after confessing to his crush (this definitely wasn't me).
It can be any date you want
Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all against celebrating Valentine's Day.
In fact, I think it's great to have a special day every year where a couple can spend some quality time together, and appreciate each other.
However, I don't believe that there's necessarily a need to celebrate it on Feb. 14 , as neither my girlfriend nor I feel that the date itself is special in any way.
And in case you're wondering why we decided on August. 14, it's simply because it's easy to remember, being exactly six months after the actual Valentine's Day.
Since our birthdays are in November and January respectively, we also want to space out the gift-giving within a four-month window (very practical, I know).
To be honest, your personal Valentine's Day can be any date you want.
It can be your first anniversary, or the day you first talked to your partner. Or it can be a completely arbitrary date, just like mine.
No matter what it is, just choose a date, and make it special for you and your partner.
This helps to avoid unhealthy comparisons
If you're still not convinced, let me put it this way.
On Valentine's Day, it's also likely that you'll see plenty of couples walking down the street holding flowers as well. Which may make the act of flower-gifting seem a little less special.
In addition, given the sheer volume of social media posts on that day, some may even feel tempted to compare their gifts to others ("eh, how come her bouquet is larger than mine???"), or compare the restaurants that others are going to.
Face it, that's simply not healthy for a day that should be about appreciating one another.
By celebrating the occasion on a different date, you get to spend the day doing what both of you enjoy without the pervasive temptation of comparing your celebration to someone else's.
Whether you still want to have a romantic wine and dine session, or you simply prefer spending the time playing board games with one another, it doesn't matter. Nobody is going to judge you.
Plus, you get to save money and avoid the mad rush that's typically involved with Valentine's Day.
What's there to lose? (Unless you made the decision unilaterally without consulting your partner. Then maybe you have a lot to lose).
Top photo: Hung Pham, Jessie daniella/Unsplash