It is that time of the year again when love is supposedly in the air. But all I smell is the stench of capitalism and societal pressures nudging its way through the so-called month of love. Ads for Valentine’s Day are everywhere, from billboards to Instagram. The prices of flowers and chocolates are on the rise. On Valentine’s Day, collectively, people all over the world spend billions of dollars to prove their love to their partners.
How did Valentine’s Day Become the Love Day?
Valentine’s Day originates from a couple of Grimm stories. One theory suggests that, initially, mid-February was when the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia was held, where men sacrificed a goat and a dog and whipped women with the dead animal’s hides in the hopes of enhancing a woman’s fertility.
Another popular theory claims that the date February 14 was popularly known as the beginning of the mating season for birds, therefore, it was believed that the middle of February should be dedicated to romance. Valentine’s Day was born because of this.
The most bizarre theory of Valentine’s Day dates to 289 A.D.E. when Emperor Claudius declared marriage to be unlawful and imprisoned a priest named St. Valentine. The priest was accused of passing love letters through the prison’s bars, which read: “From your Valentine.” However, there is no historical evidence to support this claim.
In 1913, after Hallmark released the first Valentine’s Day card, Valentine’s Day officially became a holiday. Humans are suckers for love, so we instinctively grabbed hold of it and ran with it, but we ran a little too far. Large bouquets of flowers, boxes of chocolate, and heart-shaped jewelry were all part of Valentine’s Day industry by the 1980s. In the present century, Valentine’s Day makes up for 24% of sales in the 22.2-billion-dollar chocolate industry.
Negative Effects of Valentine’s Day
Behind the flowers and the sweet treats, there is a dark side to the day. Valentine’s Day has been shown to be detrimental to people’s mental health. People often try to compare themselves to couples on TV shows, or even around them, this can make them feel lonely or depressed around the holiday.
Moreover, Valentine’s Day makes single people feel left out. The day of love makes people lonelier. There is also the peculiar notion that if you are single on Valentine’s Day or do not get any Valentine’s Day cards or gifts, you have failed in some way. That is simply not the case.
Love does not exist only between two people who are dating or married; it also exists between friends, siblings, and any other relationship present. Valentine’s Day excludes all these relationships and only allows romantic relationships to celebrate love. This holiday not only puts pressure on single people but also on couples. The question of what to purchase their significant other, how important, or expensive the gift should be, and whether the day will be memorable are all on their mind. Couples are expected to display their love for one another by purchasing gifts and making elaborate preparations for the day, according to society. Valentine’s Day has become heavily commercialized, resulting in inflated expectations among the public, prompting people to purchase certain goods.
Is Valentine’s Day Really Necessary?
A thoughtful gift can brighten anyone’s day. It does not have to be just for Valentine’s Day. Any time spent with those you care about and admire can be enjoyable and unforgettable. A bar of chocolate is delicious on any given day. On any given day, a flower is lovely. On a regular day, a lovely outfit or an ornament will have similar value in the heart of the friend to whom it is being given. A get-together with family or friends on any regular day is just as lovely as Valentine’s Day.
Even if friends and lovers exchange gifts and have pleasant dates, this reflects their thoughtfulness and ingenuity rather than the day’s brilliance. People should only give significant gifts to their partners if they want to, not because of societal expectations. If someone’s love language is gift-giving or gift-receiving, do it in a unique way by creating something original rather than succumbing to the corporate extravaganza.
How to Not Fall into the Capitalist Scam?
Some people are just hopeless romantics who cannot seem to get enough of Valentine’s Day. If that is the case, go ahead and celebrate the day. However, why not make a handmade card or bake a cake from scratch? If it is the thought that matters, then the effort that goes into hand-making gifts will shine through. People, in general, enjoy receiving gifts; nevertheless, most prefer homemade gifts over store-bought ones. On Pinterest and DIY (do it yourself) social media accounts, there is innumerable Do-It-Yourself (DIY) guides that will undoubtedly win the heart. Even if things do not go according to plan, it is all right, in a few weeks or months, it will be nothing but a funny story to narrate at a party. Not everyone has time to spend hours making a homemade present. But this is a perfect opportunity to support local small businesses around. Purchasing jewelry, baked goods, or greeting cards from small-time bakers and artists not only helps support someone else’s dream but also refrains from supporting a giant corporation hungry for money. It is a win-win situation.
A red rose and chocolates need not be the symbols of love. Celebrate love the way you want to, do not let society pressurize you because love cannot be monetized; it is a feeling, a feeling that should be expressed throughout the year. Capitalism should not dictate how one conveys their gratitude to someone. Society needs to be able to take time out of their daily love and show love and appreciation to their loved ones. We do not need a ton of money or a designated day to show someone we care. There should be no cost to love, adopt the traditional route: half a kilo of fresh, red, juicy tomatoes with a handwritten note and that should do the trick.