The Commercialism of Valentine’s Day
The Commercialism of Valentine’s Day, and why I’ll be spending it alone this year…
Everyone knows that February the fourteenth is Valentine’s Day, a time to show your loved one just how much you love them by showering them with gifts. A day for people in relationships to make singletons feel intensely jealous that they’re alone. A day where cards, chocolates, flowers and naughty underwear seem to reign over people. Where did this tradition even come from? How has it evolved from its humble beginnings to the commercial waste of money that it is today?
In the Catholic religion, each day of the year is associated with a different saint. There were many saints called Valentine, or Valentinus, over the years, but the one who is said to inspire our modern-day celebration was an early Christian who performed marriages for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. He was sent to prison for this, and while he was there, he is said to have healed the daughter of one of his jailers. Before his execution, he wrote her a note saying, ‘From your Valentine’, which is a tradition that has continued on through to our current celebrations.
It was not until the 15th Century that traditions similar to ours became popular. Cards with love messages, known as Valentines, confectionary, and flowers were all exchanged between lovers. It continued to grow as years went by, and by the 18th Century, pre-printed cards with sketches and poems, called mechanical valentines, were available for the young men who were not skilled enough to write or draw. With the postal service becoming cheaper, and easier for the general public to access in the Victorian era, it brought along a new type of valentine. Now, it was possible for people to send them anonymously.
In Britain nowadays, almost half the population spends money for Valentine’s Day, and over a billion pounds is spent every year. Card shops, confectionary outlets and jewellers promote the day to make sure that everyone spends as much money as they can. What originated as a simple day has become all about money. Films are kept back until Valentine’s Day in order to generate more sales. The day has been called a Hallmark holiday because of its commercialism, and I for one completely agree.
Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about sharing the love you have for a person. It doesn’t require you to spend hundreds of pounds. If you need to spend hundreds of pounds on the one you love, then surely, you’ve overcompensating? Shouldn’t every day of the year be about showing affection, generosity and thought towards the one you love? I’ve never seen the point in waiting for one day to share my feelings with someone I love.
So this Valentine’s Day, while everyone is out spending a fortune, I’ll be tucked up at home, watching a film and enjoying myself, knowing that I haven’t been suckered in to the consumerism of the Hallmark Holiday. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Words by Simply Stephanie