Why Valentine’s Day is a capitalist holiday

Chocolate, roses, and love. These three words that are usually associated with a certain day of the year: Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day. The day that partners expect a romantic gesture and kids expect a cheesy saying from some cartoon character paired with a lollipop. Overall, many people expect many different things from this holiday. But is it what we all think it is? Is it a romantic, exciting holiday filled with roses and chocolate, and if you’re creative, chocolate roses?
Valentine’s Day is a holiday that doesn’t have a set history. According to History.com, “The history of the holiday—and the story of its patron saint—is shrouded in mystery.” There are plenty of legends about the origin, most involving Saint Valentine (or some variation). It contains parts of Roman and Christian tradition. “Lupercalia [a Roman holiday not unlike Valentine’s Day] survived the initial rise of Christianity but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”—at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love.” It is now a common holiday in the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia, often celebrated regardless of religious beliefs. It is also celebrated in other countries, but it is not as popular.
Although it started out as a mix of cultures, Valentine’s Day now has little to do with tradition. Now, it is mainly based on selling things. Walking into a supermarket, the first thing to meet one’s eyes is a barrage of pink and red. There are assortments of candies, the same as usual but shaped as hearts. There are huge teddy bears, bouquets of candy, and fake roses.
All of this is advertising the fact that love is exemplified on Valentine’s Day. People in relationships are expected to buy flowers and candy for their partners, and if they don’t it’s considered rude or unloving.
History teacher Colin Kloster, who is married to special education teacher Julie. Kloster, had something to say about this. “I would honestly rather surprise my wife on a random day in June with flowers as opposed to buying something when Hallmark tells me to buy it.”
The promotion of love makes this holiday empty. If the only reason someone buys chocolate or flowers is that a store told them it was romantic, it’s not romantic. The companies who make candy simply make a heart-shaped version of their normal product and call it a Valentine.
That’s not talking about the candy heart companies who only make money on that day. They are seen everywhere on Valentines, with cheesy one-liners such as: “Be mine!” and “Give me a kiss!” These candy hearts – although delicious – can only be sold for one day a year. This may be part of the appeal, as people enjoy exclusive things, including candy that is only available for one holiday.
A majority of Americans spend money on the holiday – a lot of money, in fact. According to Forbes: “So much so, in fact, that love birds were planning to spend 036;23.9 billion on Valentine’s Day this year—up from 036;21.8 billion in 2021.” The amount of money people are willing to spend is ridiculous, all because it is expected for that day. People are supposed to get chocolate, flowers, and jewelry for their significant other, no matter the harm to their wallet.
This data is only from the U.S. This amount of money is ridiculous. The overconsumption of hearts and chocolate does not provide relationships with anything but debt and empty affection.
As a concept, Valentine’s Day is sweet; a day to focus on your loved ones. But, in reality, the main focus of it is not love, but money. Making money, spending money. Love cannot be bought, and can certainly not with heart chocolates and red roses. While they are sweet gestures that show affection, they do not always symbolize someone’s love. Especially on Valentine’s Day. If someone decides to show their love that way, that is perfectly acceptable. However, those gestures can be given on other days as well. That is the problem with Valentine’s Day. It assumes love is bought and uses that as a way to make money off of people who believe it. If love could be bought, it wouldn’t have to be on February 14. Valentine’s Day, at its heart, is capitalist and only capitalist. There is no deeper meaning other than money.