Photo used with permission from PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay
It’s that time of year again, the one that obligates people to make grand romantic gestures for their partner while simultaneously bringing out the desperation of singles. That’s right, it’s Valentine’s Day.
Whether or not you’re in a relationship, we are likely all going to feel a little blue on the beloved day of red, white and pink given our current isolation. The truth is, we are better off without this holiday. At first glance, it may appear that Valentine’s Day is a timeless tradition that celebrates romance and the beauty of love. However, its origin is much more complex and abusive.
According to NPR News, the holiday is thought to have originated in ancient Rome, where a festival called Lupercalia occurred mid-February each year. The Romans feasted from Feb. 13 to 15, during which a dog and goat would be sacrificed. Men would then take the animal hides and beat women with them. Lines of young women would form in front of drunk, naked men because they believed being whipped would fertilize them.
This was just one of the discriminatory activities directed to women that occurred during the festival, although certainly the most brutal. The Lupercalia festival marks an early historical event of abuse towards women, and yet we choose to celebrate a holiday derived from it. While it is true the times have certainly changed since then, the many flaws of Valentine’s Day have persisted, evolving and morphing into our society.
Nowadays, love is measured through quantity; the amount of stuff you are given represents the love between two people. Items are now valued more than the connections you have with others. Purchasing gifts for the people you care about is viewed as the primary way to show affection.
On the authority of The American Psychological Association, these materialistic idealizations have caused people to develop a complex that makes them feel unloved and in need of physical things to feel secure in relationships. The trouble with relying on items is that people constantly crave more of them to remain happy.
Businesses use the internal fears of customers to their advantage by stocking products during the Valentine’s Day season and advertising that they would make excellent gifts. In turn, the holiday has become heavily commercialized.
As such, hundreds of thousands of people go out each year to buy chocolates, flowers, balloons, jewelry and just about any other cliche gift one can conjure. None of these gifts are authentic nor sustainable measures of love, but people purchase them anyway due to their materialistic delusions.
While helping to increase businesses’ incomes, we find ourselves racking up some hefty costs too. Besides the gifts we buy, there’s also an array of other expenses such as the bill for a fancy restaurant, valet parking and a new outfit that gets factored in.
This money goes toward helping store employees and workers maintain a steady income for their families. Our purchases provide businesses with profits, which is a great thing. However, disposable income creates an unsustainable way of spending that negatively impacts shoppers.
When manufacturers increase their demand, more jobs can be created. Wages begin to rise, and from that, more spending occurs. This constitutes a cycle that leads to economic expansion. Unfortunately, this can also lead to pollution, waste and depletion of natural capital. For more information on how consumer spending impacts the economy, check out this article.
The National Retail Federation expects the total spending for Valentine’s Day in the U.S. this year will reach $21.8 billion. The steep price really isn’t worth it; there must be a better way to bestow endearment.
Some may argue Valentine’s Day is a nice moment in which two people can celebrate their love for each other. However, this simply promotes there being a day in which you can compare the quality and volume of love in your life with everyone else’s.
Because of this, Valentine’s Day has become a time of stress or anxiety as the pressure to look and act perfectly is stupendous. There is no need to put in so much effort for something that occurs only once every 365 days.
By that remark, Valentine’s Day implies that so long as love is exhibited on that specific day, it is enough. In reality, people should be emulating their actions during the holiday throughout the entire year. It matters just as much how loved ones are treated every other day too.
In addition, the holiday puts so much emphasis on showing love towards significant others, but there are other relationships worth honoring that may not necessarily be romantic. In tough times, especially mid-lockdown, there can be a strain on families.
It is important to show gratitude to the people who are helping to support you right now, and to the people who you are missing. So put off trying to find your Romeo or Juliet this year, and take a moment to honor the connections you have with your friends and family. Not just on Feb. 14, but when they most need it too.