Is Valentine's Day worth celebrating?


Fact Box

  • The origin of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to three different St. Valentines. One theory centers around a priest who defied the reigning emperor, Claudius II, who banned soldiers from marriage. Valentine went on to perform marriages undercover, but after his actions were revealed, he was executed by Claudius. 
  • The festival of Lupercalia can also be linked to Valentine’s. On February 15th in Rome, priests would sacrifice a dog and a goat, and use the hides to slap women to encourage fertility. The celebration was outlawed in 494 CE by Pope Gelasius I, and Christianized into what we know today as the day of love.
  • For Valentine’s Day 2021, US consumers are expected to spend $21.8 billion on related products and $2 billion on candy alone.
  • Esther Howland is known as the “Mother of the American Valentine” for her elaborate greeting cards. After sales took off, she ended up making $100,000 in annual sales, and sparked the craze of the American valentine card business. 
  • Singles Awareness Day, February 15th, was created in 2001 to celebrate single people who choose “empowerment and self-love.”

Maha (Yes)

While love cannot be limited to a single day in a year, Valentine's Day is an excellent reminder for couples to stop and celebrate. Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on Americans' work-life balance and tested their relationships over the span of 11 months. 

Almost half of the population is expected to observe the day in 2021, spending around $21.8 billion on gifts and more. That said, gifts don't necessarily need to be materialistic. About 55-58% of couples will be spending an evening out, while 34% will spend money on experience gifts and other types of gifts. 

In addition to spreading happiness, Valentine's Day's gift-giving behaviors are rooted in a sense of belonging, altruism, and affection. Men especially benefit from gifting their significant others as they're inclined to use their gifts as a form of nonverbal communication.

Singles, too, have reasons to celebrate. Comprising 31% of the population, 20% of singles are excited about Valentine's Day. Many consider it an excellent time to improve their profiles on dating apps. Even those with no romantic plans look forward to sharing the day with their pets (12%) or friends (17%). 

Alternatively, around 58% of singles use the day for self-love. After all, Valentine's Day is a holiday dedicated to celebrating love. By appreciating who they are as people, individuals enjoy several benefits, including added happiness and increased motivation. 

So, regardless of their relationship status, people should take the time to celebrate Valentine's Day and bond with their loved ones or celebrate themselves.

Bertie (No)

How we have ended up glorifying love on the anniversary honoring a saint's death is a conversation for another day, but for now, suffice it to say, Valentine's Day is a manufactured holiday. It is the ultimate 'Hallmark Holiday,' and is a money grab through-and-through by not only Hallmark but chocolate/candy manufacturers as well as the teddy bear and flower industries. And don't forget the diamond mill. Pre-COVID, restaurants were also in on the racket, advertising 'romantic candlelit dinners' without mentioning that the 'special Valentine's' menu is usually priced substantially higher than the same meal on February 15th. Everything about Valentine's Day is fabricated to get people to drop copious amounts of money (often more than they can reasonably afford to spend) under the pretense of 'showing how much you love him/her.'

No relationship is built on a solid foundation if expressions of appreciation for your significant other are declared on only one day out of 365. The holiday also creates wildly unreasonable expectations if one partner anticipates a little velvet box cradling shiny rocks. These dashed hopes inevitably lead to fights or even breakups. If, on the other hand, there's a happier outcome and that rock happens to be pillowed on a ring, most of us are familiar with the commencing eyerolls on hearing of a cliché Valentine's Day proposal. 

All this says nothing of the societal pressure for coupling and the ensuing shame, embarrassment, or loneliness that can come knocking for those not in a romantic entanglement. Yes, we're indeed all made for community and intimacy, but patience is key, as quality relationships aren't built around isolated days like February 14th.

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