Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that people usually love or hate, and there are some valid reasons for both! In the spirit of ending on a high note, I’ll begin with explaining some criticisms against Valentine’s Day and then go on to the lovey-dovey good stuff. Although, be warned—I tend to be on the cynical side of Valentine’s Day.
- The Bad:
1. Its primary utility is to promote consumerism.
We all hear the history of Saint Valentine and all that good jazz, but does that really mean anything to us? For 99% of people celebrating the holiday—no. The marketing of Valentine’s day speaks for itself. For goodness sake, Walmart started selling Valentine’s Day items before New years passed! During Valentine’s day season, prices of jewelry, heart decorated items, chocolate, etc. drastically increase while at the same time being promoted at higher rates than any other time of the year. There are advertisements showing attractive, loving, usually heterosexual couples receiving these gifts and falling deeper in love, but these are just ploys to increase product consumption in our society. I will not go as far as to say that the creation of the holiday was to promote consumption patterns, but the continuation of the holiday is definitely being used to do this and benefit corporations at your expense. Not only should love not be displayed or proven through monetary value, but the pressure to spend enough money on gifts and find a good enough present for your SO typically distracts from what the supposed intended purpose of the holiday is—showing affection to the people in your lives. This unnecessary but usually inevitable stress comes with the holiday.
2. People shouldn’t need reminders to show affection to their significant other.
All romantic pressure is distributed between two days in relationships—the anniversary and Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day serves as an excuse not to show the same amount of love and admiration to a person’s SO year-round. We usually see this problem among men in heterosexual relationships. This is likely due to how men are socialized and the expectations of masculinity, but I digress. We often see that the women in these relationships are meant to look forward to a special occasion in order to feel thought of or cared about. However, it’s usually still a let down! But, this could just be a critique on how people need to learn how to fulfill their loved one’s love language.
3. Valentine’s Day usually emphasizes heterosexual relationships and overly promotes being in a relationship.
First of all, advertisement’s, movies, and overall media tend to display straight couple’s during this holiday and perpetuating the perceived normalcy of being hetero. This is bad for a multitude of reasons that we don’t have the time to discuss right now, but I do encourage looking into it! But beyond that, it emphasizes the benefits of being in a relationship and often represents intimacy as something that can only exists in a relationship. This isolates entire groups of people including single individuals, asexual, and aromantic people. Instead of this, we should be normalizing platonic intimacy—especially for male identifying people!
4. Lastly, pink, red, and purple color combinations are just tacky, but you can take or leave this hot take.
Heart jewelry is also bad, but, sadly, misguided people purchase this too each year.
- The Good:
1. A reminder to value the people you love is sometimes good.
In the hustle and bustle of our lives, a reminder to value the people you love is sometimes good. We live in a society that praises “busyness” and values efficiency. This typically results in us running around 24/7 in the name of productivity which makes it difficult for us to reflect on and savor our loved ones. Valentine’s Day can serve as a reminder to do this, and if you don’t feed into the negative aspects of the holiday like I previously listed, it can be an emotionally fulfilling holiday for all those involved. Simply because you have a busy life and may not have the time or money to buy a bouquet of flowers for your SO multiple days of the year or have the energy to regularly do romantic things for your loved ones, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are thoughtless. In fact, you probably do loving things throughout the year, but your SO may be too busy themselves to properly reflect on and appreciate them. They need the reminder too!
2. It gives the opportunity to show sentimentality.
This is how I typically treat the holiday. Whenever I have a significant other and Valentine’s Day rolls around, I try not to purchase any real gift, and if I do, it’s usually cheap but holds a deeper sentimental value. I also try to let my gifts reflect my SO’s love language, so if their love language is “words of affirmation” I’ll make sure there is a lengthy card or love letter in the gift. If it’s quality time, I might buy a planner and put tons of date ideas scattered throughout the upcoming months. I use it as an opportunity to show them love in the way they best receive feelings of love.
3. I guess some people like the pink, red, and purple color combinations and heart jewelry.
Plus, people sometimes give you chocolate for no reason, so that is always a win.
Regardless of where your opinion falls on the value of Valentine’s Day, we might as well use it as a time of reflection. Ask questions about the needs of the people you love in your life, and take joy in the fact that chocolate turns ½ priced on the 15th!