Every year, from the start of the new year to the middle of February, stores are flooded with red and pink, urging consumers to buy mass-produced gifts to make their special someone feel, well, special.
Valentine’s Day isn’t just another capitalist ploy — at least it wasn’t intended to be. The celebration of Valentine’s Day has to do with St. Valentine, a figure in the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church recognizes three different saints named Valentine but it’s unclear which one the holiday is for. Each figure is believed to be “sympathetic, heroic and, most importantly, romantic,” according to the History Channel.
Some historians believe Valentine’s Day is a spinoff of Lupercalia, an ancient fertility festival. Lupercalia was a sexually-charged celebration to “ward off evil spirits and infertility.”
At the end of the fifth century, Lupercalia was deemed “unchristian” and outlawed.Then the Pope declared Feb. 14 a day to celebrate St. Valentine.
However, these are the origins of ancient traditions we’re talking about. It can be hard to pinpoint how these things started.
There are also theories that the historical background of Valentine’s Day is all hogwash and the holiday was created by Hallmark, hence “Hallmark Holiday.”
Hallmark never said it had any involvement in creating the holiday, but the company certainly benefits from it; think of all the Valentine’s Day cards people buy.
Consumers are attacked with ads directing them to stores to spend money to prove they care about their loved ones; because in capitalist America, we show affection by giving tangible gifts.
The National Retail Federation anticipates consumers will spend an average $196.31 on Valentine’s Day this year, up 21 percent from last year’s $161.96. In total, spending is expected to reach $27.4 billion, up 32 percent from last year’s $20.7 billion.
The holiday has just become a way for businesses to manipulate your emotions to stress you out over the “perfect gift.” But in reality, all that matters is that you love the person you’re trying to shop for and you show that by giving your time.
Is Valentine’s Day a scam controlled by Hallmark and hungry companies profiting off of our illogical desire to please our loved ones with high price tags? Maybe.
Consider how short life is for a moment. At the end of the day, will all the expensive flowers, cards and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate hold any real value? Ultimately, what people really value and look back on are the memories they make with their loved ones.
This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to step away from the capitalist rat race and show those close to you that you care for them through your actions, not your wallet.
Maria McGinnis is a features and opinion editor. Contact her at at firstname.lastname@example.org.