There are many speculations about how Valentines day came to be, many of them including a pagan festival with “fertility blessings” and the roman god, Cupid, shooting arrows at people to make them fall in love.
The purpose of Valentine’s day as celebrated by America is to shower loved ones with appreciation and love; but it has always had the intent of being a corporate holiday used to spend more money than necessary to validate relationships.
Fifty-one percent of Americans celebrate Valentine’s day each year and the percentage continues to grow. Now, people are not just shopping for significant others but pets, family and friends. According to sendible.com, an average of $26 is spent on pets, $36 for friends, teachers and classmates, and, coming in second after significant other, $54 for coworkers.
More than ever, companies are using this to their advantage. The National Research Federation (NRF) calculated that people in the U.S. are estimated to spend 27.4 billion this year on gifts for Valentines which is 30 percent more than last year. Many companies like Hallmark are making more cards that are centered around Valentines day but more on the appreciation of family and friends aspect.
Valentine’s day ads are becoming more creative and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon to sell more products. Youtubers do Valentines makeup tutorials, stores put up big displays front and center and even ticket sites put out notifications for V-Day concerts and events.
As part of classroom tradition, students in elementary school are expected to have their parents purchase a pack of valentine cards and candy to pass out to their classmates. Although I never understood the purpose of this tradition, I still appreciated the idea behind it and that it allowed everyone in the class to get along for at least one day. But it’s also unnecessary money that some families do not have, especially those with more than one or two children. It isn’t required, but it does make kids feel bad when they show up to class with nothing to give their peers.
Valentines is also shoved into the faces of those who have no reason to celebrate it because it is so heavily based on couples. It’s like when my elementary school class had Christmas parties every year and I felt awkward because my family didn’t celebrate it.
According to muchneeded.com, thirty-five percent of the money that goes into Valentine’s day is spent on flowers, specifically red roses. According to CNN, 224 billion red roses are grown specifically for this holiday and 1.6 billion USD is spent on candies. The whole concept of boxes of chocolate was centered around the opportunity to sell people more chocolate than they needed in the 19th century by a man named Richard Cadbury.
As technology advances, more people are starting to shop online for their Valentines purchases. 28% of recent Valentines gifts were bought on sites like amazon and apps like Pinterest are go-to’s for date ideas.
The purpose of Valentine’s day is sweet, and I think the intent is really sentimental to lots of people, but I also think that the way it has been turned into an overrated holiday is one of the reasons people dislike it so much. We should appreciate our loved ones every day instead of emphasizing the importance of this capitalist holiday.