I am a 21-year-old, single undergraduate college student. In fact, I have been single for so long that all but my oldest friends have never seen me in a relationship. But I don’t care. Deep down, I have always liked it this way…until recently.
Out of three of my best friends (who are all roughly the same age as me), one is married, one is engaged, and the third is living with a long-term partner. Yet I am still single, and not really actively looking for a relationship.
It’s not that I don’t want to be with somebody; it’s that I am strongly against the whole modern idea of a relationship and what it should entail, and this aversion infests my thoughts most strongly during two days of the year — Valentine’s Day, and Tu B’Av.
Starting off with the better-known and more widespread Valentine’s Day: The origins of this most hated of days probably lie with Geoffrey Chaucer, a Middle English literary giant who tried to spread ideas of courtly love within his social circle. Since then it has become one of the most overdone and commercialized days of the Western calendar, when couples absolutely must dote on each other and crank the romance all the way to 11. So what exactly is wrong with that? Well, lots of things.
First, the pressure — I mean if you thought remembering anniversaries and birthdays was bad enough — not to mention having to romantically celebrate them on pain of being dumped — now we are adding another day to that list?! Thanks, culture(!)
Second, the precedent that it sets: Once you have taken your romantic partner on a madly romantic and awesome date, then that can become the general standard expected of you. It also means that anything similar that you do in the future with your partner is less likely to be viewed as romantic, and more like a been-there-done-that sort of thing.
Third, finance: As a student, I can barely afford to live my life to a standard that resembles what I have become accustomed to. How am I supposed to finance crazily romantic and expensive dates as well as support my own life? Sorry, girls, but my personal wellbeing comes first.
Finally, and most importantly, why that date? I mean, I can understand the idea of going out and being romantic, but I do know people who have been dumped because they didn’t make plans for the arbitrary date of February 14th. What’s up with that? It’s not like they were on a date with somebody else — It’s just a normal day, people!
So now that my reasons for hating Valentine’s Day are out of the way, let’s talk about Tu B’Av.
According to the Talmud, Tu B’Av marks the beginning of the grape harvest, when unmarried girls would dress in white, go out to the vineyards, and dance. There are also various happy and positive events that are traditionally believed to have happened on this date, and it is seen as a high point following the nadir of Tisha B’Av six days earlier.
So why do I hate Tu B’Av so very much? Unlike with Valentine’s Day, where I detest the whole concept in general, I actually like the idea of Tu B’Av. It’s another harvest festival (because we Jews can never stop thinking about food and ways to celebrate it), and some good stuff is supposed to have happened on that date in previous years long ago; nothing wrong with this. My issue is with what Tu B’Av has become, particularly amongst secular Israelis.
Tu B’Av to most people is just another Valentine’s Day but in the middle of the summer instead of the middle of the winter, leading to even more expectations for romantic opportunities due to the far superior weather.
I hate Tu B’Av because it is no longer actually Tu B’av. I hate it for every reason that I hate Valentine’s Day, except my hatred is magnified because it’s even more pointless and unnecessary as Valentine’s Day already exists!
In the beginning of this piece, I said that I wasn’t interested in a relationship until recently, but a warning to any potential future partner: If you are expecting me to put any effort into Valentine’s or Tu B’Av, you’ve got another thing coming!