Valentines Day: A holiday built on
Mackenzie Guadagno, Reporter
Valentine’s day has changed dramatically from the historical death of Saint Valentine, who the holiday was originally named after, to the traditions we have now. Valentine of Terni, a historical figure recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, was a Roman Saint who married people in secret. At the time, marriage was outlawed as it was believed military performance was better when men were single. Valentine was caught and sentenced to death on Feb. 14, marking the date of the modern day holiday.
Valentine’s Day has gone from celebrating marriage to an empty representation of love. Modern Valentine’s Day traditions are built on capitalism with no real intention of being a day to celebrate the ones people care for. Capitalism is the economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry is controlled by privately owned businesses. Valentine’s Day traditions didn’t start this way, and there are many stories of how Valentine’s Day was celebrated in the past. None of them align with the celebration capitalistic culture has created today.
Feb. 14 marked the start of an annual tradition in Rome; one that celebrated love with a matchmaking festival. One of the most commonly told stories of the festival is a woman was hit with a farm animal carcass to promote fertility. These early celebrations were not romantic, and have little in common with the way people celebrate Valentine’s Day today.
The shift from goat rituals to the holiday we know today didn’t happen overnight, however production of the first Hallmark card in 1913 acted as a catalyst to the capitalistic holiday we have today. Hallmark and other large corporations that feed off of Valentine’s Day sell chocolates, and other gifts do so not to promote healthy relationships, but to build up multi billion dollar companies that encourage shallow representations of love. Companies like Hallmark don’t care about people celebrating Feb. 14 with the ones they love, unless gifts are involved. And because of the power corporations now have over this holiday, the entirety of how we celebrate Valentine’s Day has changed. Now, buying a gift on Valentine’s Day is an expectation, not just a way to celebrate love.
Since there is no correlation with the history of Valentine’s Day and current traditions, the reason for modern Valentine’s celebrations is the influence of commercial companies. But now that the way we celebrate love has changed, the marketing around it has created toxic social stigmas that inevitably force people into buying gifts when there are much better alternatives for expressing one’s love.
While many people enjoy receiving gifts on Valentine’s day, it is much more meaningful to spend time with the ones they love instead. Valentine’s Day is a capitalistic idea used to sell the general public material items meant for the people they care for. There’s a reason some people associate Valentine’s Day with gifts instead of going on dates or hanging out. It’s because dates and hangouts aren’t what Valentine’s Day is built on; material objects are.
Valentine’s Day is fully and completely a holiday built on capitalism. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. It can be a day to celebrate all relationships by spending time and connecting with the ones we care for. If people feed into the traditions that commercial companies have created, it encourages the toxic social stigma that promotes gift giving for the sake of a capitalist country, not love. The gifts sold on Valentines Day aren’t for one’s loved ones, they are for the people of that corporation. So, maybe spending time with people who truly care is a better gift than anything materialistic.