Lilly Calman is not in the mood this Valentine’s Day for the flowers, chocolates or a romantic dinner for two, especially after a recent breakup.

“I’m very angry,” said Ms. Calman, 26, adding that it had been painful to see all the holiday paraphernalia in store aisles.

She found a more fitting outlet for her mood this year: a fund-raiser for the San Antonio zoo that will symbolically name a roach or rodent after an ex and feed it to one of the zoo’s animals.

“The visual image of him getting eaten by a Komodo dragon is pretty satisfying,” said Ms. Calman, who donated $25 for the rat option. She is hoping the zoo sends her a video so she can host a screening with a friend. “I love reptiles. I think it’s cool.”

The annual campaign has raised over $235,000 since the zoo first ran it in 2020, underscoring the appeal of alternative Valentine’s Day rituals for people who are uninterested in the coupledom of it all.

The traditions of Valentine’s Day bring strong feelings, both for and against. Do you appreciate a cute tradition? Or do you hold it in contempt as a consumerist scam? Critics have blamed it for upholding a narrow-minded model of relationships as heterosexual and monogamous.


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