Valentine’s Day: Heart-felt holiday or profitable ploy?

by on February 13th, 2013

The 14th February means different things to different people. For some it is a chance to declare their undying love or celebrate their togetherness and for others it’s a reminder that they don’t have love in their lives. But more and more people are now protesting that Valentines day is a manufactured money-making venture by the card companies. So which is it?

After New Year’s Day, Valentine’s is the most celebrated holiday around the world. Even though, technically, it’s not actually a public holiday.

The History of St. Valentine’s Day

It is widely believed that St. Valentine was imprisoned for performing Christian weddings for soldiers who weren’t permitted to marry under Roman rule in 270 A.D.  It is suggested that just before his execution St.Valentine sent a farewell letter to his sweetheart, signed off with ‘From Your Valentine’.

But this isn’t, as far as history can tell, where the tradition began.

St. Valentine was characterized by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 15th Century where by people would express their love with flowers, confectionery and greeting cards.

With this in mind, can we really argue that our 21st Century card companies manufactured a day that is proven to have been celebrated in the 15th Century?

Cashing in on love?

So can we blame the card companies for creating Valentines Day what it is today?

All hearts, chocolates and red roses?

People have been making Valentine’s Day cards since the 1400s and hearts, doves, flowers and chocolates have long been associated symbols of the 14 February.

So if companies are making more and more money out of Valentine’s Day, shouldn’t we be scrutinizing ourselves for perpetuating the commercial gain? After all, businesses run on demand for a product. Birthday cards wouldn’t be made if no-one bought them.

There is undoubtedly a certain amount of pressure to buy something on Valentines Day, especially in the early days of a relationship. But I think the shift in attitude to Valentine’s is more about a shift in the modern consumer. We are more savvy in the marketplace and because we’re so bombarded with products and adverts on a daily basis we’re now prone to distrusting anything that blatantly tries to get us to spend.

Consumers now have the confidence to step back and ask ‘Is this really worth £10?’ or ‘Would this single red rose cost me £5  in March?’ Probably not.

Many companies have picked up on people’s attitude to unnecessary spending on Valentine’s Day and are now selling cards that subverse tradition.

 

So heart-felt holiday or profitable ploy?

Whilst, yes, I agree that the card companies cash in on Valentine’s day, they don’t force us to go out and buy anything. Besides, I like the sentiment of Valentine’s Day, what could be wrong with showing someone that you care? Romance doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, equate to how much money has been spent by your partner. There are other ways of  celebrating Valentine’s Day which don’t involve a dozen red roses and a gargantuan box of chocolates.

If we boycott Valentine’s Day because it’s turned into a commercial venture, what’s next? Christmas?