First introduced in the year 496, Valentine’s Day is meant to be a celebration of romantic love and admiration. Every year on Feb. 14, people send candy, flowers, and gifts to their partners, friends and family. It may be perceived as an innocuous holiday, but the truth is that Valentine’s Day is a consumer trap in the form of a heart-shaped card.
Valentine’s Day had its beginnings in ignorance. There are many different stories about the origin of the holiday, but one of the most popular is that the Christian church wanted to “Christianize” the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, a Roman festival of fertility that takes place in mid-February. On Feb. 14, 1929, also known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, seven people were murdered in a gang shootout in Chicago, Ill. For me, this places a negative connotation on the day as a whole, and I truly do not understand how people completely ignore everything awful about the holiday in favor of cheap drugstore chocolate and overpriced flowers.
According to the National Retail Federation, an approximate $20.7 billion was spent on Valentine’s Day related products in 2019. The spending is predicted to increase by 32% in 2020. Common gifts, such as flowers, chocolate and jewelry, are not cheap. Millions of people spend hundreds of dollars on virtually useless items that only offer short-term gratification at best. The holiday promotes showing love with material items, rather than with words or gestures. Our modern society has a serious problem with consumerism, and Valentine’s Day is nothing but an opportunity for large corporations to take advantage of gullible customers.
Valentine’s Day is truly the day of unmet expectations. Most men and many women feel obligated to give a gift to their partner on the holiday, believing that their significant other will be angry if they do not. It is obvious that Valentine’s Day simply reinforces stereotypical gender roles of how people of all sexes are supposed to behave in a romantic relationship. It dates back to elementary school, where the girls are given the pink cards with princesses on them, and boys are given blue cards with superheroes. Young boys try to build up the courage to talk to a cute girl, and young girls hope that the boy they are crushing on will give them a valentine. The holiday sets a standard for how heterosexual relationships are supposed to be, with the male courting the female while she sits around and waits. Gender roles are present all year long, but are especially prevalent around Valentine’s Day. Why should we encourage a holiday that tells people who they should be and what they should like? The idea of a “perfect relationship” generates the belief that you need to be in a relationship to be happy, and discourages being single with feelings of loneliness during the holiday season.
To summarize, Valentine’s Day is a complete waste of time and money. Romantic relationships should be built on genuine love and respect for each other, not the shallow desire for expensive dinners and gifts. Instead of showering their loved ones with pointless gifts on one random day of the year, people should simply spend time with their significant others all year long. A partner should feel special 365 days a year, not just one.
By: Emily Chambliss, Feature Writer