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Scam or Opportunity: The Public’s Opinion of Valentine’s Day

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Winona chapter.

Valentine’s Day is the third most expensive holiday in the US. While consumers are digging into their bank accounts, retail companies’ sales are soaring. This year, a projection of nearly $24 billion dollars will be spent in total with each man spending $100 on average more than each woman. Most of this money will go to jewelry, flowers, and candy purchases.

Despite the large amount of money spent every year to celebrate this day, 47% of Americans don’t plan on celebrating Valentine’s Day at all. 

In my experience, people either love Valentine’s Day or hate it. Personally, I believe Valentine’s Day is a good opportunity to show your admiration for your loved ones, but I don’t think it is needed because we should spoil our loved ones and show them our appreciation as often as possible. However, I do not agree with the drastic price increases on retail items, such as chocolate and flowers, or spending an extreme amount of money. I like Valentine’s Day because I adore love, but I hate it because it has become so commercialized. 

My own indecisiveness on the topic led me to develop a curiosity about what others think regarding this day, so I decided to do what most journalists would: I reached out to the public.

First, I decided to ask a handful of people a set of questions. All participants agreed to be quoted on the record.

The following quotes are from willing participants. I conducted these interviews via social media platforms (Facebook and Snapchat) to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses. Therefore, some grammar and mechanics have been altered while maintaining the meaning of the message; the intended meaning was not changed or skewed as a result of the grammar and mechanic changes.

Cheyenne Halberg (CH): What is your name and age?

Susan (68): Susan Heifort. 68.

Elizabeth (25): Elizabeth. 25 years old.

Sophia (26): My name is Sophia, and I’m 26.

Jay (21): My name is Jay, and I’m 21 years old.

Matthew (21): Matthew Robinson. 21.

Rayna (20): Rayna B. 20!

Ashley (30): Ashley. 30.

Damian (21): Damian Fiedler, 21.

CH: What are your general opinions regarding Valentine’s Day?

Susan (68): I think it is overrated. Love is every day; not just one day a year.

Elizabeth (25): I don’t really have opinions regarding Valentine’s Day.

Sophia (26): I love Valentine’s Day! I think it is a beautiful holiday; I love all the decorations and cards, and it is especially fun if you have a significant other. However, I know it has been heavily capitalized on (as with all the other holidays), so it can put unnecessary pressure on people in their relationships to spend money and “prove” their love. So we just have to remember Valentine’s Day is more about time spent with people you love.

Jay (21): My overall opinion of Valentine’s Day is that I think it’s a cute holiday for everyone to celebrate those they love. Even though it’s seen as a holiday for couples and couples only, I believe that anyone should be able to celebrate it with someone they love, whether it’s a significant other, a pet, or a best friend. Everyone deserves to get spoiled at least one day a year!

Matthew (21): I feel that Valentine’s Day is basically a day for people in relationships, and as you get older, if you’re not in a relationship, the day means nothing to you.

Rayna (20): I personally think Valentine’s Day is a waste of time and money.

Ashley (30): I feel that Valentine’s Day is just another day and that restaurants will create dinners as a way to increase prices. I prefer to have a homemade dinner, if we celebrate. Also, it’s important to appreciate each other year round and not just on certain days of the year.

Damian (21): Generally, I like Valentine’s Day I’d say; I think it’s a day of celebration with the people you love.

CH: Do you participate in any Valentine’s Day events or traditions with family members or your significant other(s)?

Susan (68): Not really.

Elizabeth (25): As a child, my family did “secret valentines,” kind of like Secret Santa but Valentine’s Day themed, which was a great activity for children. At this point, we (husband and I) don’t do much for Valentine’s day aside from going out for dinner, but it’s usually not anything different from a typical date night. We do make homemade fudge and chocolate turtles for Valentine’s Day though, which I think is turning into a new tradition.

Sophia (26): I do not currently have any traditions, but it would be fun to start one in the future!

Jay (21): I do participate in Valentine’s Day events! I don’t have any traditions that I follow, I just enjoy spending time with those that are close to me! 

Matthew (21): Not really. Me and my mom have in the past, but otherwise, I haven’t celebrated it in a long time.

Rayna (20): I personally have only participated in Valentine celebrations, [no traditions].

Ashley (30): We don’t have any traditions surrounding Valentine’s Day except maybe cooking a homemade meal some years.

Damian (21): I personally don’t participate in events for Valentine’s Day. I personally celebrate privately and not publicly.

The following are from follow-up questions. I did not ask follow-up questions to each interviewee.

CH: Do you expect or have you ever expected any gifts/presents from your significant other(s) around Valentine’s Day?

Susan (68): I don’t expect anything unless I buy the both of us something.

CH: Have you ever felt pressured to do something for a significant other for Valentine’s Day?

Sophia (26): I definitely feel there is an overall societal pressure, but I’ve never done something that I didn’t want to do or spent more than I wanted to spend. I think this holiday gives couples an opportunity to find ways to show they appreciate each other and that doesn’t necessarily mean gifts.

CH: Do you think there is extra pressure to cook dinner together on Valentine’s Day? 

Ashley (30): No pressure; and most years, we’ve been too tired to do anything. And some years, we end up cooking the meal on a different day than the 14th. 

CH: Do you expect any gifts/presents from your significant other around Valentine’s Day?

Ashley (30): [We have] no expectations for gifts or presents.

CH: Have you ever felt pressured to buy or do something in regards to Valentine’s Day?

Damian (21): Typically when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I never feel pressured to buy anything. I do love surprising people though.

CH: As a male, have you ever felt a significant other expected you to pay more or plan a date on Valentine’s Day?

Damian (21): As a male, I’d say it depends how each of us is feeling, but I never feel expected to spend more. I just try to make the best out of quality time with them.

Second, I posted a poll on my personal social media accounts including Facebook and Twitter.

A total of 13 people completed the poll. 

10 identified as female, and 3 identified as male.

The age ranges consisted of 2 people between 40 to 50 and 11 between 18 to 30. 

All of the 13 participants grew up in the United States. 

All of the participants were able to recall the specific date of Valentine’s Day without the use of a calendar.

When asked about their feelings regarding Valentine’s Day, they responded as such:

4 participants loved it, 3 liked it, and 6 had neutral feelings. None of the participants chose the “I do not like” or “I hate it” options.

8 out of the 13 participants planned on celebrating Valentine’s Day this year. Celebrations include, but are not limited to, the sending of cards, the planning of date nights, and coordinating an outfit to match the theme of Valentine’s Day (including red). 

Within the previous 5 years, 9 people said they celebrated while 4 did not. 

Lastly, participants were willing to spend the following amount of money on a significant other or family/friends:

3 were willing to spend $0-$20.

4 were willing to spend $20-$40.

1 was willing to spend $40-$50.

2 were willing to spend $50-$100.

3 were willing to spend as much as their significant other wanted.

After interviewing 8 people and documenting 13 poll submissions, I came to a final conclusion.

Most participants either had positive or neutral views regarding Valentine’s Day. This surprised me because I was expecting to receive a lot of negative views. I was also surprised to see how much people were willing to spend because I, personally, would not spend more than $100 on Valentine’s Day. I noticed a few of the interviewees, specifically Elizabeth (25), Damian (21), and Jay (21), either currently participate or previously participated in Valentine’s Day events or traditions, and their views are either neutral or positive. Meanwhile, some of the people with negative views still participated in some events like Rayna (20) and Ashley (30). This surprised me because Rayna (20) expressed that she thinks it is a “waste of time and money” and Ashley (30) said it is “just another day,” but both interviewees participate in Valentine’s Day events: Rayna (20) admitted to attending celebrations, and Ashley (30) said she and her husband may make dinner. I would have expected the interviewees with negative views to avoid Valentine’s Day altogether, but that did not appear to happen according to the interviewee responses.

As with any study, potential problems may arise. Potential problems regarding the poll submission pool could be that people who dislike Valentine’s Day decided to ignore the poll since it had “Valentine’s Day” in the title. Another potential problem could be that people who dislike Valentine’s Day may avoid social media, thus not having access to my poll. Meanwhile, potential problems with the interviewees could be that I did not ask questions clearly enough for them to understand, they may have felt limited to their answers since it was over social media and not face-to-face, and/or the interviewees may not have felt comfortable voicing their true feelings about the holiday since they were on-record. 

At the end of the day, I enjoyed reaching out to the interviewees to receive their feedback, and I also enjoyed analyzing the poll submissions. While some of the results were what I expected, I was more surprised than I anticipated. 

Lastly, I owe a huge thank you to the interviewees and participants who willingly took time out of their day to answer my questions. Journalists can only make a difference thanks to their devoted public audience.

Cheyenne Halberg is a student at Winona State University with a major in Communication Arts and Literature Teaching. She is from the outskirts of St. Cloud, MN. Cheyenne enjoys writing to express herself and empowering others to do what they love. Her hobbies include spending time with friends and family, watching football, spending time outdoors, crafting and writing. Her life goal is to leave an impression on the next generations that allows them to embrace their unique qualities.