Valentine's Day: More than Materialism & Romantic Love

I often hear people say that Valentine’s Day is just a Hallmark holiday. While it is true that retail stores profit from Valentine’s Day associated sales, there are far more ways to celebrate this day than through abiding by societal norms. 

Society’s accepted perception of this holiday has skewed from the simple day of love that we experienced in elementary school. In fact, the first result on Google for the search “society’s view of Valentine’s Day” is the following headline: “Valentine’s Day: Love Does Cost a Thing.” This piece points out the fact that “major retailers and public relations firms have the power to insert the idea that the limit on money for gifts is not an issue.” 

Moreover, my social media feed is usually flooded with Valentine’s Day related posts once February hits, oftentimes revealing the pressure single people may feel to find a partner prior to this holiday or the loneliness single people may feel when their timelines are flooded with couples publicly posting their gifts and love for one another.

If we take a step back from the materialistic and romantic emphasis on Valentine’s Day, however, we can see that there still is the potential for this holiday to be a day of love. Not just romantic love, but platonic and self love as well. 

Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite “holidays” because it is a day when I can remind my friends and family how much I truly love them (I am a very "words of affirmation type person if you can’t tell.) Perhaps it is through sending a message to loved ones far away or giving my friends a cheesy good ol’ Valentine- which I absolutely will be doing this year. Or, perhaps it is sending those that I love a cringe-worthy Valentine’s Day meme card on Instagram to brighten their day.

This year, however, I will also be focusing on self-love. Even practicing the smallest forms of self-love makes a difference: taking a bubble bath, making time to curl up with a book, or, if you are my boyfriend, playing Xbox. 

As for the idea that Valentine’s Day is a day to express love through materialism and giving gifts: remember that an experience together is much more memorable than a box of chocolates and flowers. 

Naturally, Valentine’s Day will look different this year for a lot of couples due to the pandemic. Yet this can be viewed as an opportunity to take a creative, unconventional approach to celebrate together. 

For example, my boyfriend and I both love hockey. We decided to have a simple Valentine’s Day and just enjoy spending time together: we plan to watch the Penguins game and order a pizza from his favorite pizza place. 

Whether you are single or in a relationship, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to express your love to those closest to you- including yourself. The smallest acts of kindness can go a long way in reminding yourself and your loved ones that they are loved, which is what Valentine’s Day should be all about.