Valentine’s Day: problematic or not?

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Kaitlyn Bloemer, Photographer and Reporter

Ah, Valentine’s Day is inching closer and closer each day. The day that is presumed to be for celebrating love, whether it be between platonic friends or madly in love couples. However, has Valentine’s Day become one mass marketing scam, feeding off the expectation of showing your loved ones your affection? 

The history of Valentine’s Day, along with the story of its patron saint, is considered a mystery. We do know that February has always been associated with love, but the question is why? The Catholic Church actually recognizes at the minimum three different saints named Valentine/Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. According to legend, the first “valentine” was sent by one of the Valentine saints after he fell in love with a young girl, most likely his jailer’s daughter, who often spent time with him while he was confined. Others believe the holiday comes from the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, where an order of Roman priests would gather at a sacred cave to make sacrifices and paint the women of their villages with the blood, believing it would produce fertility. Afterward, the women would place all of their names in a giant urn, which gives me very big Hunger Games vibes, and a bachelor would choose a name out of it. The couple would then spend the year with his chosen woman, which would often end in marriage. 

So while the history of Valentine’s Day is a puzzle, there is a very clear way that it is celebrated today. Couples buy gifts for one another, go on dates, and there is an expectation that everyone in a relationship celebrates it. And of course, because of that expectation, companies are going to take advantage of the holiday to rake in some cash. In 2020, almost 24.7 billion dollars was spent on Valentine’s Day items, ranging anywhere from cards to candy. Is that what Valentine’s Day has really become? Just a way for big marketing companies to steal your cash?

Honestly though, if it is, who gives two hoots? I mean, Christmas is the same way, and nobody really complains about it as much as they do Valentine’s Day. I really do not see the problem with having one specific day set aside where you honor your loved ones and show them your appreciation. Nobody ever says you have to go out and buy big expensive gifts, cards or dinners either. There are plenty of beautiful and romantic things that you can do for your partner or friends that you do not have to buy. Also, using your communication skills goes a long way if you do not want to celebrate Valentine’s Day through gifts and dinners. For example, my boyfriend and I talked it out a long time ago and decided Valentine’s Day did not have to be such a big deal. We would rather save the money to spend on birthdays and Christmas or do something special later on. We do not do gifts and just spend the day with each other. You have to be open with your partner to really get what you want.

While, yes, Valentine’s Day has become very commercialized, I do not see anything wrong with it. If someone wants to go out and follow the Valentine’s Day expectation of buying every heart decorated, candy covered, flower powered gift on the shelf for the significant people in their lives, let them. If you do not want to fall into that category, so be it. I think that it is important to show people who you care about them, and I am okay with having a day set aside for that. Overall, people need to take that spirit throughout the year and continue to spread the love for the people who impact them the most. However, there is nothing wrong with setting aside one day for it and letting companies provide gifts for that day.

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