Celebrate Valhallantines Day, Not Valentine's Day
There is enough hatred out there in the world that I don't need to point any more of it at Valentine's Day, a pleasant enough reason to eat heart-shaped chocolate and drink fizzy wine for breakfast. I am into the February 15 drug store candy sales as much as the next person. By now I have figured out that it bears no special portent if you are single or coupled on that day—it can be an occasion for sweet gestures and flowers or for hanging out with your friends and playing pinball, or for an overpriced prix fixe dinner packed with other anxious couples. It's fine, is what I'm saying. If you enjoy it feel free to enjoy it, and if you don't, you're not really missing out on that much.
But I have long believed that what February needs is a different kind of holiday, one that celebrates the animal instincts that pull us through winter rather than our collective nervousness about Tinder dates. What I imagine is not Valentine's Day, but Valhallantines Day, a day to rage against the sun still setting before 6 p.m. Less roses and candy, more eating meat with your hands. To celebrate, in a loose way, the hardiness of the titans of Nordic mythology and the seasonal, human fight against the elements. To cast off our puffy coats and link arms to drink mead, preferably around a bonfire, but in a bar is probably OK too. Do you have a flagon? Bring your flagon.
The proper cuisine for Valhallantines Day is offal. You could incorporate it into your life by making a proper Irish fry-up (the vikings were in Dublin after all) and including the requisite portion of black pudding. You could make an offering to your loved ones and whip up a chicken heart scramble. If you can get your hands on some animal blood, you could use it to make pancakes. If none of those is up your alley, buffalo wings will do. If you steer away from meat, maybe some serious crudite dipped in barbecue sauce. Mead would be great, but Bud Lite will do just fine. You could watch Vikings if you want, or not if you don't. The point is to take a look around and say that you have survived the first six weeks of the year, in a time when that is a real accomplishment.
Winter is a messy, sloppy season, and we need a holiday that is just as messy. The ways we get through winter are often inelegant and rarely photogenic. Rather than masking them with doilies, let us bring them into the open. We are, hopefully, over the worst of it, but there is bad yet to come. Let us gird ourselves for the remaining winter elements with good company and protein and alcohol. Let's make Valhallantines Day the day to celebrate.