The Commercialization of Valentine’s Day

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Riley Knestrict

  Regardless of being in a relationship or not, heart-shaped chocolates, enormous stuffed teddy bears and obnoxious bouquets of flowers are the key to anyone’s heart on this celebrated day in February. These romantic gifts have always been expected on Valentine’s Day, so one has to ask: Where did it all start? Is this holiday really about the romance or is it simply a way for businesses to collect the 19.6 billion dollars Americans spend on this one day every year.

  Valentine’s Day, also known as St. Valentine’s Day, was first celebrated in 496 AD, which is a lot earlier than most people would expect. Back in that time, Valentine’s Day was a completely different event than the commercialized holiday we see today. In Rome, there was a festival to celebrate the start of spring called Lupercalia. During this festival, boys would draw girls names from a box and they would be boyfriend and girlfriend for a day and sometimes even get married. So how did Valentine’s Day go from a day of marriage to a day of spending hundreds of dollars on your loved one?

   The commercialization of Valentine’s Day sprouted from the emergence of the press in the 19th century. As ideas were able to be spread much faster, the meaning of Valentine’s Day has completely changed to the commercial holiday we celebrate today.

   For some, Valentine’s Day is a day of love and affection, while for others, Valentine’s Day is a holiday undeserving of our attention. On average, people in the United States who celebrate Valentine’s Day individually spend about 150 dollars on jewelry, chocolates and other stereotypical gifts expected to be received from a significant other. The typical gift on Valentine’s Day used to be a handwritten love letter to one’s special someone and now we splurge our bank accounts to find that perfect gift. Stores all over the country advertise just what you can buy on Valentine’s Day, making it nearly impossible to get away with not getting your loved one a gift. I think that this year, instead of demolishing our bank accounts just to give in to companies greedy for more money, we stick to the traditional way and write your special someone a love letter. Help bring Valentine’s Day back to its roots.