Valentine’s Day, like all modern holidays, has become a widely commercialized holiday, with the average amount spent on gifts increasing by $60 over the past decade.
Monetized love is an old concept.
Anything that humans desire will be commercialized, as hijacking things that people want dearly will always lead to high profits, with love and intimacy being no exception. Online dating sites are another example of this, with many services either displaying advertisements or requiring a subscription to use.
Commercialization took root in America in the 1840s, and now even those not romantically involved can take part in the holiday via “anti-valentine” merchandise, according to Big Think.
“In the 1840s, an American newspaper called The Public Ledger endorsed the holiday saying that people needed ‘more soul-play and less head-work’ and more opportunities that allowed for an ‘abandon of feeling.’ The meaning of ’valentine’ transformed from signifying a person to referring to an object of exchange,” according to the article.
Still, there are pros and cons that come with the dilution of a holiday with such rosy roots.
Many fundraising efforts are based around holidays and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Groups, organizations and charities jump on the holiday to infiltrate the emotions of potential donors, using the special day to reach deeper into the wallets of those they request money from.
We are not arguing that fundraising — assuming the organization in question is using the money correctly — is ever a bad thing, or that these groups are somehow corrupt for using holidays to raise funds. It does say something about society as a whole, though, that groups feel a need to exploit holidays for this money. Why are people not generous at all times?
Dialing it in to the minutiae of relationships, which Valentine’s Day is based around, the average American spending $60 more this decade is a sign of multiple problems.
This is due in part to the rampant commercial system instituted in America. This is a system which is based heavily around advertising and injecting propaganda into the mind of the consumer, essentially taking advantage of them.
“ … the marketing machines of many companies turned their wheels to lure more and more customers into celebrating the holiday and convince them to purchase valentines — in the forms of cards, chocolates, flowers and jewelry — for their loved ones. Nowadays, even for the noncelebrating or single individual, there is plenty of anti-Valentine merchandise to go around,” according to the article.
There is also an old trope that some couples only express their love on certain days of the year — birthdays, anniversaries and, of course, Valentine’s Day — and it is true in a sense. Through the mundanity of everyday life, many couples get lost in their daily grinds and do not show their affection as much as they should.
This is not only applicable to romantic pairings, but also to any human relationship. Valentines can be sent out to friends, family and more, but why do we feel such a need to go above and beyond on this one day of the year?
Because we do not express these emotions throughout it. If we did, the need to extravagantly display our feelings would not come to fruition in the first place, and the holiday’s commercialization would not be as bloated as it is.
We are not arguing that displaying love through gifts is wrong in anyway, or that fundraising should not be done around the holidays.
What the point really boils down to is this: We should not feel the need to ever go above and beyond when displaying our common humanity — whether that be in a romantic pairing or at a fundraiser — because we should be going above and beyond all the time.
If we all pulled together to show how much we all mean to each other, the commercialization of holidays would not be a problem.
It is an idealized view of the situation, but if not for ideals, what would we have to aspire to? In addition to showing your love for others — or your lack of it — this Valentine’s Day, take some time to reflect on how you could let those around you, particularly the less fortunate, know that you care.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 152nd editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.