Businesses make big money off of a re-imagined holiday
By Samantha Paine
Valentine’s Day may not immediately come to mind as the most commercialized holiday of the year; for most, it comes across as a day to do something special, a day to show how much you cherish certain individuals.
However, the truth of the matter is that companies are profiting greatly from the pressures of “equally reciprocal love” and the ill-conceived idea that the highest show of affection is equated to intentionally pricey gifts.
Marked-up products and heart-ridden displays litter storefronts and flash across screens in ads aimed at those in relationships, with close friends or with relatives — anyone available to spend money on. While the holiday may stand more deeply for spreading love and showing appreciation, this message is heavily overshadowed by the more looming presence of expensive gift expectations.
Andrea Buno, KU’s English department secretary and happily married mother of three, gave her two cents and explained how her family spends the holiday. “We use this holiday as an excuse to spend time together making memories,” she said.
“No fancy dinner out or expensive jewelry or overpriced flowers, and definitely no stress. Who needs it or wants it? Not me. Life is too short and you don’t need ‘things’ to be happy. ‘Things’ don’t equal how much someone loves you,” said Buno.
Not only is the current and conveniently marketable idea of Valentine’s Day an industrial con-job, but its relevance to the historical origins of the legend surrounding Saint Valentine is a stretch.
The most circulated version of the story is that Saint Valentine was a priest at a time when marriage of young
men was outlawed, as unmarried men made for more dedicated soldiers. He continued marrying young Christian couples, and for this crime, was beaten and beheaded.
Due to the relevance of marriage to his story, he became the patron saint of love, but was also the patron saint of plague, epilepsy and beekeeping. His one link to romantic attachment became his legacy, one that is now used to sell exorbitant amounts of sugar, flowers, teddy bears and anything heart-shaped on one specific day of the year.
But realistically, love is not reserved for one day, or at least it shouldn’t be. Emotional expressions should be promoted daily, and if the desire to show someone affection is present, it should not be done with commercial gifts and large expenditures of money.
Buno agreed with this idea. She said, “I believe that you shouldn’t shower your partner with love on just one day, it should be every day. So really, what makes Valentine’s Day so special then? Oh yeah, the retailers need a profit boost because they ‘love’ money in their pockets.”
So, next February, keep in mind that the “Hallmark-holiday” that comes around every year should be, at most, an excuse to remind someone they are loved with a heartfelt expression. However, they should already know.