The unnecessary commercialization of Valentine’s Day

Olivia Podber

By Olivia Podber

Saint Valentine: the man, the myth, the legend.
There are varying accounts of countless Saint Valentines, with no one knowing who they really were and what they did. One such tale involved a Saint named Valentine who confessed his forbidden love before being put to death. Another Saint was a kind-hearted Roman priest who married young couples against the orders of Emperor Claudius II and as, a result, met his demise. Nonetheless, to all the millions of people around the world who carry on the notorious Saint’s legacy, his origins are irrelevant. What really matters is the day the spawn of his name was christened after: Valentine’s Day.

February 14 is the day of love, of hope, of reds and pinks. It’s the one day of the year where boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives alike, feel compelled to do something cute and rosy for their significant other. From breakfast in bed to a night at the opera, Valentine’s Day has no limits. The stores and ads know just how much people are willing to spend and they capitalize on it.

Personally, I think Valentine’s Day is a conspiracy. It’s a way for rich corporations to make themselves even richer by charging first-rate prices for stuffed teddy bears holding bulging hearts filled with chocolates of fluctuating shapes and sizes. Oh, my heart flutters at the thought. Those who can budget in the steepest prices sometimes splurge on the little imported delicacies made in France! Oui, oui. How fantastiqué. And yes, I do mean to come off sounding sarcastic. Who doesn’t enjoy the overbearing attention associated with everyone’s favorite holiday?

On a more serious note, however, humans are infatuated with infatuation. V-Day is the one day of the year that we all believe we deserve a little more love. We cynics, all of us, secretly crave those small blue boxes with Tiffany necklaces, the white chocolate-covered strawberries, the roses galore! Valentine’s Day preys on all of those who want to feel wanted. It becomes a matter of need, the need to feel loved, which businesses exploit. The stores promising to “Make you feel closer with your loved ones,” and “Give those you love a day they’ll never forget,” snatch the doey-eyed, innocent ones into their inescapable tentacles, squeezing every cent out of them, with vows of appreciation from their partners as their only condolence for being cheated of their hard-earned dollar.

My problem with the holiday, besides the obvious issue of the abundance of money that is wasted, is that we’ve been programmed to think that if we don’t receive a Sweethearts box engraved with the words “Be Mine,” infused with love and heart-shaped sugar candies, there must be something wrong with us. There must be a fluke in the system. It’s feels keenly familiar to when your mom sent you off to elementary school with Tootsie Rolls and Lollipops to distribute to your classmates and regrettably, someone gets left out.

Maybe it was accidental; maybe your mom miscounted and gave you 24 pieces of candy instead of the 25 you actually needed. Or maybe you did it on purpose; maybe Sally told Susie to tell you that if you gave a piece to “him” you couldn’t be friends anymore because Sally had wanted to be his Valentine since January. Years later, when you end up being that poor overlooked kid, it’s as if history repeats itself, throwing it back in your face: “Ha, ha, you can’t even snag someone on the lovey-doviest day of the year.” All the special sales leading up to the day, all the articles detailing how to make any food heart-shaped, scream “You’re Defective.”

I wish they didn’t make such a big deal out of it. You can tell me it’s an optional holiday, that only certain people partake in its nefarious traditions, but I know that isn’t true. I’ve seen my parents, my friends all fall trap to the day of love and its sweet sounding promises of passion. Besides making it painstakingly clear who’s in love and who’s not, what does the day really do? This isn’t a rhetorical question. I really expect an answer.
In the meantime, as we get ready to celebrate yet another “Happy ‘shallow attempt to buy affection’ day,” I propose that we stop wronging Saint Valentine, who died only for us to materialize the reason behind his death. I say we create a new holiday to replace the currently over-sensationalized one. One that doesn’t involve an overkill of pretty pinks and rapturous reds sounds pretty good to me.