We Love Love and then Capitalize on It
If anyone checked their calendar or even went outside in the month of February, you would have known that it was Valentine's Day on the 14th. But it is highly unlikely you didn't, as Valentine's Day is one of the most recognizable holidays in the US. On this day people celebrate love in its most pure and natural form. It's the holiday where people commemorate each other, just because they appreciate that person and want to share the romantic nuances of love. However, what comes to mind more than you would think is the question why? Humans are social creatures and obviously love is a necessary part of life and that's why we dedicated a day to it… yet, this holiday may almost be more profitable for the economy than its people. Therefore, the controversy comes down to whether Valentine's Day is a popular holiday because of the celebration of love or the profitable revenue it produces.
The holiday itself originates all the way from around A.D. 270 when Saint Valentine was martyred by the Romans. The actions that he was killed for vary, but the Catholic Church recognizes the main ones. They claim he was either performing marriages for young lovers in secret when men were banned from marrying or he was helping Christians escape Roman prisons. Another myth claims he had allegedly written the first love letter to his forbidden lover when he was imprisoned and signed it “your valentine”. Regardless of what actually happened that led to Valentine's death, the combinations of these stories framed him as a selfless, loving hero which led to him being recognized as the most popular saint in England and France by the Middle Ages. The celebration was placed in the middle of February. It’s possible it was to remember the anniversary of Valentine's death or rather to “Christianize” a pagan festival, Lupercalia, that was happening at that same time. As traditions tend to do, the holiday spread and solidified, becoming a day of love that would be celebrated around the world. Written valentines appeared around 1400 CE, where even King Henry V got in on the action and hired a writer to compose a note to his wife Catherine Valois.
Love vs Money
However, as Valentine's day evolved, and celebratory practices became more varied and significant to society, consumer ship went up concerning valentines themed gifts. “According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year.” A card makes a respectable Valentine, but what accounts for the other millions of dollars spent every year on Valentine's gifts. And better yet, why is it a trend to spend so much money on a gift on a day that should prioritize actions of love over material gifting. Just this year “consumers in the United States were expected to spend an estimated total of 24 billion U.S. dollars for Valentine's Day." People love love, and then capitalize on it. Going back to 2010 and there is already a statistical increase in sales accounting for billions more dollars being spent each year.
I believe the reason these sales are so common is due to Valentines Day being a universal holiday and therefore celebrated worldwide. A day for love is appealing to the masses which provides another reason for people to spend money and get/give gifts. Money is a greed of human nature, therefore the option of a marketing scheme concealed in Valentine’s wrapping paper is the perfect option. Another holiday that can be altered for social or political and especially economic benefit. After conducting a survey where I asked 15 people their thoughts regarding the true intentions of celebrating Valentine's Day to such an extent, 65% had agreed it was for capitalizing on the revenue, while 35% thought it was a day built on love. In the end, the true meaning behind Valentine's Day is subjective so it’s up to each individual on how they view this loving day.