Romance, red roses, and chocolates coaxed lovers into spending their cash earlier last week. Valentine’s Day has been a lasting custom in American society since as early as the 17th century, but just because it has become a tradition doesn’t mean it must be upheld.
With a hallmark holiday being ranked in 2016 as the day with the third-highest suicide rate in the U.S, this tradition should be met with a certain sense of criticism. Valentine’s Day, also commonly known as “Single Awareness Day”, has created a causeway for people to either shovel money to different companies to showcase their love for their significant others or have their spirits dampened for being single during a one day holiday.
This hallmark holiday was established as a symbol of eternal love but has morphed over time into a capitalist concubine. The intentions of a day dedicated to celebrating love and companionship were meant to be pure, but where money can be salvaged, the corporations will be obliged.
Therein lies the issue; corporations such as Hallmark, Kay Jewelers, and Russell Stover’s have been able to rake in an exorbitant amount of money on the motto of the holiday: the more money you spend, the more love you show to your partner. To put numbers to statements and turn statements into facts, it was estimated by the National Retail Federation in 2016 that the average person spends $147 per valentine.
With that statement added with the 319 million people that live in the United States, the population of America would roughly spend $46,893,000,000 on a single holiday. Odd to think about when the entire idea is simply a holiday propped on the shoulders of capitalist gains and shrouded by the lasting act of love.
The idea of free love became popularized by the man on whom this holiday is based, St. Valentine. A single priest allowed for runaway couples to be wed to one another in secrecy against the very law that forbade them to marry in the first place. Though his practice was discovered by the Roman government and he was beheaded for treason, his message of allowing love to flow freely has lived on. He proved that love, whether it is legal, coupled, or single, is possible.
Unfortunate to the memory of a revolutionary man with free thoughts, an all-seeing capitalist shepherd has led the flocks of free people to willingly give up their hard-earned money to a tradition rarely questioned by the mainstream public.
The idea of love and the freedom to express it should not be relegated to a single day or a single event. To be dedicated and to show affection for your significant other should be professed by each person individually and not by whatever a retail store deems your love is worth.
The clichés of dying flowers, convenient store cards, and a note haphazardly scribbled to say “Love ya, Honey” is a tradition that is slowly clawing its way to the grave.
To say that Valentine’s Day is overrated, clichéd, and an archaic idea invented by corporations to gain income wrapped in red silk would be an understatement.
If we are to practice the ancient tradition that St. Valentine progressed back in the year 273 C.E., wouldn’t it make sense to practice the tradition in the manner it first originated? Instead of hastily-bought greeting cards and chocolates that most likely won’t be eaten until it is too late, write a letter by hand that expresses the love you share for your significant other and handpick your flowers.
Although these may be the ramblings of a hopeless romantic, hell-bent on finding the meanings of things left to be taken advantage of, these words should not be taken for granted. Love was never an idea to be caged by the constraints of a holiday. If we are ever to celebrate Valentine’s Day in truth, it must be practiced throughout the year and to all people. Single, in a relationship, and everything in between; any and all people deserve to feel the love that St. Valentine’s Day once represented.