If you are involved in a relationship, your plans for Valentine’s Day are most likely sealed with a kiss. No one needs to tell lovers what to do on the day of love. Many couples will be sipping port by the fireplace, resting after a feast of aphrodisiacal oysters and strawberries. Meanwhile, a number of single folk will be found muttering imprecations at the rows of helium-filled balloons and red roses being sold all over town.
Singletons should take heart though, because there are alternatives to blindly indulging in a luscious triple-fudge, peanut butter-striped bowl of guilt to avoid the feelings of rejection that threaten to pile up. Alternatives to the North American version for celebrating love can be found in various other countries
In Brazil, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on the eve of June 12. The 13 of June is the Day of Saint Antonio, the saint that “helps with getting married,” said Raquel Cavalcante, a Brazilian exchange student at Concordia. It’s also traditional in Brazil to go to a party and wear red, yellow or green to denote your availability. If you wear red, it means you are in a committed relationship and no one will try to kiss you. If you’re in yellow, it means you’re somewhat available. And green says, “Baby, let’s go for it!
If dressing up like a traffic light to get kissed doesn’t appeal to you, the non-profit local community organization Head & Hands offers another option. Why not go to a party in support of a sex education initiative?
The “Anti-Hallmark Love Brigade” is throwing their third annual party on Thursday, February 9. Those who go to dance through the night will help the organization to fund school projects to teach kids about responsible sex.
In September of 2004, the Quebec government pulled all formal sex education programs from classrooms. According to Cecilia Liotti, event coordinator at Head & Hands, they are a non-profit group with a mission to “send out a positive message to young people that love can be celebrated in all of its forms: that it’s possible to be smart in love and take care of ourselves and our partners.”
The organization currently runs a medical clinic twice a week. With more money, Head & Hands would be able to fund more services. Their pilot project, called, “Sense Project,” seeks to put volunteers in schools to lead sex education workshops with young people. They hope to train 20 volunteers to reach approximately 200 young people in the coming months. The project is a non-discriminatory program that will address teenagers’ questions on the cultural, social, religious and medical ramifications of having sex.
“Being a teenager is difficult when it comes to sex. They have lots of questions, and we provide information so they can make the best decision about themselves. We let them know that STD’s and AIDS are completely preventable, and it’s education that’s the key,” Liotti said.
The “Anti-Hallmark Brigade” took its name because the organizers are against the commercialization of love.
“It should be celebrated without judging people’s choice of relationships. [It’s] not just about the homosexual/straight relationships, but can be addressing the question of [one person] being very religious, wanting to be with a partner who isn’t,” said Liotti.
The Hallmark website offers a disclaimer in its defense, “While we’re honored that people so closely link the Hallmark name with celebrations and special occasions, we can’t take credit for creating holidays.” With approximately 180 million cards exchanged industry-wide, and more than half of the U.S.’s population celebrating Valentine’s Day with a greeting card, Hallmark seems to be doing pretty well.
The “Anti-Hallmark Love Brigade” will feature DJ Maus and DJ Julie D., bands Kill the Lights, Tundra and Andrew Johnston’s The Hearts in Transit, and a theatre performance by the Dead Dolls Dancers. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, and more information are available at Head & Hands, 5833 Sherbrooke W, (514) 481-0277.