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Valentine’s Day: Is it a Heartfelt Holiday or Purely Consumerist?

Josie Krupens

Elaina Martin, Opinions Editor

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Valentine’s Day. Celebrated by couples and abhorred by singles everywhere, the “holiday” seems to elicit equal amounts of positive and negative feedback. While some might argue that the celebration is heartfelt and a good chance to show romantic and platonic love, the truth is that Valentine’s Day is purely commercial and its sole purpose is to guilt people into spending during the static mid-winter.

   The beginnings of Valentine’s Day are somewhat vague. While many stand by the legend of St. Valentine, his love letters, and martyrdom, more proof lies in the economic history of Valentine’s Day. The Washington Post explained that in the late 1840s, an entrepreneur named Esther Howland began the first mass production of Valentine’s Day cards. Her business boomed — she pulled in about 100,000 dollars a year, which allowed her to sustain herself and her company (washingtonpost.com).

   While Valentine’s Day had been celebrated loosely before as a pagan celebration, according to the History Channel, the “holiday” wasn’t common (or commercialized) until Howland began mass-producing her lucrative cards. Howland eventually incorporated and sold her business after acquiring a large amount of wealth (history.com). Nowadays, her legacy lives on, as around 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year. There’s no hiding it, the beginnings of Valentine’s Day as we know it are deeply rooted in economics and corporate advancement.

   Unfortunately, not much has changed. The National Retail Federation reported an approximate 19.6 billion dollars in 2018’s Valentine’s Day spending, which was a record high (nrf.com). The Atlantic revealed that, on average, partners expected their significant others to spend a total of 240 dollars. Respondents even acknowledged the deepest underlying issue that gets tied in with this expectation: a deplorable sense of obligation (theatlantic.com).

   And that’s just it — the sense of obligation takes away a lot of the heartfelt-ness and earnest out of the day.  This can be seen in a poll done by a UK analysis site: they noticed a large decline in Valentine’s Day excitement. They attributed this event to disappointment in commercialism and the overall lack of personal meaning in the holiday (newsweek.com.)

   Furthermore, Valentine’s Day commercialism is designed to make people feel terrible. Instead of creating a positive, loving atmosphere, those who design the “holiday” have created a perfect guilt trap to convince everyone into buying in. If you don’t celebrate it, you don’t really love your significant other. If you do, you’re never buying enough flowers or making the right dinner reservations. And if you’re not in a relationship, something is deeply wrong with you; just look at all the happy couples everywhere. In order to fit in, people support all the consumerism, just because everyone else is doing it.

      Clearly, Valentine’s Day is a corporate scam. It’s called a Hallmark Holiday for a reason — all its true intentions have been lost to commercialism. In the end, no one should ever need a day set out of the year to show their significant other that they are loved. Part of being in a healthy relationship is never needing an excuse to show that you love each other. So, randomly surprise your partner with chocolate and flowers. Just don’t fall into the commercial pit of Valentine’s Day.

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Valentine’s Day: Is it a Heartfelt Holiday or Purely Consumerist?