Hey guys! What’s new? How has your week been?
So I wanted to talk about one of the most infamous days of the year. Valentine’s Day, an occasion to show love to our significant others. But I wonder, if this day has lost it’s true meaning and has any place in present society….
Every year on the 14th of February around the whole world, man’s most romantic side, shines. The cards, the sweet nothings that is uttered in many an ear and the accompanying flowers can be seen everywhere. But it seems, as the world changes and advances, Valentine’s Day may have lost it’s true meaning.
Seemingly, it has become a day to to show off who does it the best, the biggest and using the most money while supposedly displaying true love at the same time. As a result, brands knowing that people will generally spend a lot of money, are cashing in on this idealised and heavily commercialised way of showing your significant other love. It wouldn’t be unusual to find many billboards and shop posters displaying events, 2-for-1 deals and general corniness in the lead up to Valentine’s day.
In fact Business Insider reported that the average American was expected to spend $134 (roughly around £100) on the holiday in 2014, according to the National Retail Federation. In total, that’s an estimated $17.3 billion in annual spending on the day. In 2016/7 it reached between $18.6 – 19.7 billion. In particular, companies like Tiffany&Co, 1-800-Flowers, The Hershey Company (chocolates) and the Hallmark Card company gained millions of customers and plenty in revenue from the one day alone. According to Statistic Brain, 144 million people sent Hallmark cards last Valentine’s Day, making it the company’s second biggest day, after Christmas and 10% of 1-800-Flowers annual sales come from the holiday.
So, Valentine’s Day is a serious money maker, helping brands propel their sales and visibility, much, much further. People, it seems, have given into all the marketing techniques that has literally taken the ‘love’ out of the day.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely important to show our loved ones how much you care and as often as possible. After all, tomorrow isn’t promised. And gift giving is an obviously lovely and special way to do that. For example, in Japan, gift-giving is very important and is deeply embedded into their culture.
According to Rebel Essex: ‘It is a sign of respect, generosity, and amicability between parties. Gift-giving is prominent in all aspects of life, from the political to the personal. Though it may seem effortless from the outside, the giving of omiyage is a very structured and systematic process. It’s not nearly as simple as picking up a souvenir from a trip for your close friends – it’s much more than that. More so than a simple gesture, omiyage is a way of life.’
The complex ritual of bestowing a gift (three different stages) is done with the upmost sincerity. Gifts, however, tend to be on the useful side. It would be perfectly acceptable to present a household item as a gift, which would signal thoughtfulness over what someone actually needs as opposed to simply wants. Compared to the westernised way of gift-giving which is usually done the other way round. Though on Valentine’s Day in Japan, women give their male partners chocolates, but these are still obligatory gifts and do not carry any romantic meaning.
But lets delve deep into the actual history of Valentine’s Day, and there’s quite a few. One legend, and the most cited, contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When the Emperor, Claudius III, decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Other histories generally concede that the saint was a heroic and ultimately romantic future. So, it’s origins lay in uniting love against all odds, an obviously worthy cause!
This is in stark contrast to now where it seems Valentine’s Day is about who can do it the biggest and the best. And don’t me wrong, as I’ve said grand gestures of love are…well, lovely. Heck, I would happily accept a gift or two from my partner! It’s fun, exciting and helps to keep the romance alive.
But still, there’s seems to be a preoccupation with the wrong side of Valentine’s Day, like getting a ‘bae’ just in time for it, rather than finding someone who you can experience true love with. Sure, you could say it’s just for ‘bants’ but Tinder experienced a 20 per cent surge in usage in the lead up to Valentine’s Day and expects a similar trend again this year, reports ABC News. Singles, so desperate to have someone to share the day with (which in essence isn’t a bad thing), but are allowing the pressure of the day to get to them.
Or the rise of ‘zombie bots’ aimed at spamming the inbox of single people to scam them, says NY Post. We are witnessing then, the hijacking of a special day that no longer keeps true to its origins. Even when you look at how Valentine’s Day became very popular, it’s clear to see that its commercialness has taken over:
The innovations in the 1900’s created ‘Valentine Mania‘ in Britain and America. “Increasingly ornate Valentine’s cards featured lace paper, decorative gilding, perfume, cushioning and a range of novelties from pressed flowers to pop-ups. These elaborate cards, which could be expensive, were designed – as now – to foster love and to consolidate courtships,” writes Annebella Pollen,
a principal Lecturer in the History of Art and Design, University of Brighton.
Perhaps then, the true meaning of Valentine’s Day has become overshadowed and renders the day basically pointless. Of course I can’t account for all relationships and what truly goes on, but the general consensus seems to be that Valentine’s Day is not what it used to be or at least should be.
So, for anyone feeling particularly lonely around this romantic period, don’t. Valentine’s Day, it seems, is yet another commercial scam to get you to spend money or to make you feel unloved and undesired. Instead, fall in love yourself, to which this blog is dedicated, and when you do meet your significant other (if that’s you want), hopefully you won’t fall into the inauthentic trap that is Valentine’s Day.