Day of Love or a Social Construct?
by Simran Patwa
What is Valentine’s Day exactly? Is it just a holiday in which lovers selflessly express love or is it a day filled with expectations and heartbreak when, say, you don’t get roses or a card? It is essentially a holiday that was constructed by Hallmark to increase card sales. Obligations by couples to get each other gifts resulted in a boost in sales for Hallmark, a brilliant marketing strategy. I, personally, do not believe that there needs to necessarily be a single day that defines what love is. Why does someone need to get roses or a card for their significant other on February 14, rather than any other day of the year. It seems like a silly idea. It seems like an idea made only to benefit one company: Hallmark.
144 million Valentine’s Day cards are sold. 144 million 99 cent cards eventually add up and produce massive sales that leave the card company rich. The cards were first sold starting in 1916, which means that it has been over a century of celebrating a holiday constructed only to make a profit, rather than promote love in society. But that is only one part of the picture. The average person spends $136 on Valentine’s Day. But there is ultimately a reason Valentine’s day is observed on February 14. Roman legends suggest that Valentinus was incarcerated for harboring Christian beliefs. Preceding his death, he wrote a note to the jailor’s blind daughter and signed, “From your valentine.” Additionally, the goddess of love and marriage, Juno, was honored on February 14 in Rome.
Now the question I pose: “Is Valentine’s necessarily bad? Does it need to be seen in a negative light? I think that it has its positives and negatives, which clash with one another. On one hand, it is a holiday that is filled with expectations. I do not want to generalize each couple, however many couples expect roses, chocolates, cards, or jewelry on the day gifted from their significant other. Others, however, see that it is a holiday constructed by a card company and choose to leave the expectations behind. They choose not to confine their love inside a single day.