The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
For starters, this article is not intended to change your mind about Valentine’s Day if it is something that you genuinely enjoy. If you love Valentine’s Day, I fully support you! However, I think it is important to recognize that Valentine’s Day can cause a lot of anxiety and dreary feelings for many people.
Personally, I don’t enjoy Valentine’s Day. It has always seemed pointless and frustrating to me, even at a relatively young age. Another disclaimer, I’m not just bitter about being single on Valentine’s Day. In fact, I am not single, and I wasn’t single last year, or the year before on Valentine’s Day – I just don’t like it.
Before I was in a relationship, February 14th was a day of embarrassment and disappointment. In high school, we had a tradition where we bought roses for friends or love interests and sent them either anonymously or with our names. Then, on February 14th (or whatever weekday was close to it if it fell on a weekend), students on the committee would go around and pass out the roses in every class, calling out the students who were given a rose. This often felt isolating and disappointing. I always hoped that someone would send me a rose, or if I did get a rose, I hoped that it was from someone whom I had romantic feelings for. It never was.
On the other hand, being in a relationship these past few Februaries, I’ve felt a lot of pressure to prioritize the 14th. There is an expectation that I go out and get my partner a gift, write him a sappy card, and pretend like it’s a day that brings me joy. I would much rather spontaneously celebrate my relationship throughout the year than have one single day, annually designated by my calendar, to publicly confess my love to my partner.
My bitter feelings aside, Valentine’s Day is just another capitalistic scam. Why do we need an extra day each year to spend copious amounts of money on fancy chocolates and flowers? Why do the prices of candy and jewelry go up so much in February? Americans spend more than $23.9 billion on Valentine’s Day each year. That makes February 14th the third most expensive holiday in the US, following Mother’s Day and Father’s Day at number two and Christmas at number one. The sentiment behind Valentine’s Day is sweet, but it has morphed into another of the many pieces of capitalism that I can’t get behind.
The history of Valentine’s Day isn’t completely clear, but many legends date it back to Saint Valentine, a priest who served during the third century in Rome, who illegally married people, defying Emperor Claudius II. Claudius realized that it was more appealing to send single men to war, rather than men who were husbands and fathers, so he made it illegal for young men to get married. Valentine recognized this as a huge injustice, so he continued marrying loving couples anyway. When Claudius discovered what Valentine was doing, he had him executed.
I always found this intriguing, but it also led me to question the holiday more intensely. This story, which is only a legend, is what has prompted centuries of celebrations, but also unreasonable expenses, dread and shame.
Will I be boycotting Valentine’s Day this year? Honestly? No. I don’t see a point in making a big public deal about my feelings toward the holiday (just ignore the fact that you’re reading this article after that statement), but I won’t be making a big deal about it in a positive way either. I will reluctantly exchange gifts with my partner, enjoy the chocolate he gives me, and go about my day as normal. I also won’t be raining on anyone else’s parade, but I do think that disdain and hesitation about February 14th should be more normalized. That’s why I let my feelings out here, but once again, don’t let mine change yours.
I wish you a happy Valentine’s Day, whether you will be celebrating or not. Remember to tell your friends, family, and partners that you love them, even when there isn’t a day dedicated to it.