Cupid vs. consumerism: the reality of Valentine’s Day


Photo provided by:

A holiday celebrating love and romance, Valentine’s Day has become associated with imagery of hearts, the colors red and pink, angels and flowers.

Annaliese Long, Section Editor

For as long as humans have inhabited the earth, one fact has remained undeniably true: everybody loves love. It has served as the inspiration behind the majority of our civilization’s most beloved novels, poems and songs, and it has even earned itself its own holiday – Valentine’s Day. Every year on Feb. 14, couples around the world take part in practices that are meant to demonstrate their love for each other, such as the gifting of flowers, candy and jewelry, and the partaking in lavish dates.

However, upon deeper reflection into the nature of these practices, I have come to notice a glaring flaw that disrupts the positive feelings usually kindled by the holiday. On a day intended to commemorate love and all the wondrous things it can bring to your life, all the focus seems to be on material items. At surface level, there does not seem to be anything inherently awful about this. Everyone enjoys receiving gifts and being spoiled from time to time, so what could be the problem with a holiday that is more or less designated to doing this?

The problem is found in the unavoidable pressure that is placed on anyone in a relationship to do these things; to buy flowers, give chocolates, and provide more affection than is deemed necessary on any other day. In reality, a relationship is based on much more than the materialistic things one person can give to the other, and any day in the relationship is one that should be treated with care and grace. I believe the main focus of Valentine’s Day should be showing love through words and actions, not dinners and jewelry. 

The off-putting reality of the holiday is only amplified when one realizes just how many blatant cash-grab attempts are made in the name of the occasion. As soon as February arrives, almost any store can be found boasting “perfect gifts to buy for your special someone”, no matter how unrelated to romance the miscellanea of the store may be. This illuminates the way in which Valentine’s Day has taken on a consumerism-based life of its own. It is no longer a holiday about celebrating love in its purest form – instead, it is about proving your love through buying as many items that are conjectured to be romantic and valuable as possible. This only serves to put more money into the pockets of big corporations and does nothing to actually prove the strength of your love.

I believe Valentine’s Day does have real merit as a holiday, but this merit is not found in the antiquated expectations of giving and receiving a plethora of goods. Instead, the beauty of the holiday can be found in the acknowledgment and tangible appreciation of the love in your life (in whichever form it may exist) and the many blessings that love provides – often not seen or spoken, but always there.