I once believed February 14th was a day for romance. I thought it was supposed to be romantic, as if the entire universe ordained that this arbitrary day would be the day for candy, flowers, and ooey gooey love.
But then, on Valentine’s Day eight years ago, I was given a beautiful vase of blue roses. Their cost was more than $100. Even a mere eight years ago, $100 was worth more than it is today, but I also happened to be jobless at the time. The flowers were nice, but they weren’t $100 nice. After all, they were dead and gone a week or two later. I wanted to love them but I honestly just felt guilty that I would have rather had the 100 bucks. It felt like a waste. Of course, I didn’t tell my then-boyfriend what I really thought because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
The incident set in motion a series of thoughts for me. Why was I told the price at all? Did he delight in telling me? Was he eager to get brownie points for spending on me what was a ludicrous amount of money for either of us at the time? The high price didn’t make me feel any more loved than I had the day before.
Ever since then, something about Valentine’s Day has felt dysfunctional to me. What should I have expected on this holiday anyway? What was it all about?
Single people complain about Valentine’s Day all the time. It makes sense to me that people would generally dislike a day that celebrates something they feel is lacking in their lives. But as time goes on, it makes less and less sense to me why couples bother to celebrate.
I mean, what exactly is Valentine’s Day? Think about this. Take a moment to stop reading and answer this for yourself:
What is Valentine’s Day all about?
Here’s what I came up with:
Valentine’s Day is a holiday that you celebrate by buying things to give to someone (or multiple someones) that you’re romantically interested in. The things you buy are usually limited to the options of unhealthy food, dying pieces of plants, metals and minerals to hang on your body, and maybe stuffed pillows or frilly underclothes. You also usually buy various sheets of mass produced, folded cardboard pre-printed with corny messages.
Even if someone recognizes the frenzy and junk buying as pointless and uncorrelated with actual love, they likely buy crap anyway because that’s what their significant other expects them to do. If whatever a person buys is deemed “not good enough,” they will likely face an unpredictable amount of emotional punishment.
So, what did you come up with?
Valentine’s Day originated as a Christian feast in honor of a saint. It has transformed into a holiday about buying retail tokens of love.
I don’t have to look up the sales figures to know Valentine’s Day is a cash cow for stores. They wouldn’t set up entire Valentine’s Day themed aisles right after Christmas if they weren’t selling the hell out of all that rubbish. But I looked it up anyway. Valentine’s Day retail sales in 2012 were estimated at $17.6 billion for the United States alone. The projected estimate for this year is $18.6 billion.
You Can Opt-Out
Valentine’s Day is pointless. It’s another way to transfer money from your pockets to the pockets of corporations. The junk you buy says nothing of value about your love for another person.
Lest you think I’m just another single person who’s really whining because I have no one to spend the holiday with, I am actually in a happy relationship. And this year, my partner and I have agreed to do absolutely nothing to celebrate the retail holiday of Valentine’s Day. This is actually our second year of not celebrating it.
You don’t have to buy into the commercial hype of Valentine’s Day either. If you’re single, it’s still going to suck for all the same old reasons. But if you’ve got someone special in your life, you could make a pact with each other to not exchange gifts this year. After all, is your love something that can be measured in dollars spent? Of course not. If your love is worth anything, it should be able to survive not buying unnecessary crap.
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