Valentine’s Day: the day of love. For those in romantic relationships, it is an opportunity to express one’s appreciation and commitment to their lover. For those not, it is a sappy love-fest that piques either jealousy or denial.
But now, Valentine’s Day doesn’t seem to be entirely about love anymore.
When you think of Valentine’s Day, certain objects come to mind: boxes of low-quality chocolates, teddy bears, jewelry, red roses, and bottles of cheap wine. These objects have come to epitomize what the day of love ought to look like: an exchange of gifts and “I love yous.” Each year, Americans spend billions of dollars on Feb. 14 to display their affection. It’s as if all one needs to do to express their love is put down a chunk of cash. Valentine’s Day is no longer about loving one’s significant other: it is about gifting them commercialized products.
In the days leading up to Feb. 14, the pressure to buy memorable gifts is placed upon people, often creating stress, both mentally and financially. How can a person possibly display all of their feelings through something tangible? Does more money spent mean that you love your partner more? Moreover, what gifts are romantic and proper enough?
It is easiest to stick to the tried and true items most often associated with Valentine’s Day. But, chocolates and roses only represent love because corporate industries have told us so. Companies market their products to appeal to themes of love by adding red and pink packaging bedazzled in hearts. This convinces consumers that what they are buying has an element of romance, making it fit to give. In fact, Americans dish out $4.3 billion on jewelry, $2 billion on flowers, and $1.7 billion on candy on the day of love. Valentine’s Day is a holiday in which corporations are most joyful.
With such emphasis on buying and giving gifts, one may forget what Valentine’s Day is all about. It is easy to get lost in the fine print and overlook the main cause of why you’re spending money in the first place.
So this Valentine’s Day, remember that gifts do not have to symbolize your love; they are not the end-all-be-all to your relationship. Instead, invest your time, not your money. Time is fleeting; memories are infinitely more valuable than a handheld object. And then, maybe treat yourself to discount chocolates the day after.