Can’t Buy Me Love

Valentine’s Day is upon us, and along with boxes of chocolates and bouquets of roses, there seems to be an air of cynicism that surrounds the holiday. Traditionally, on February 14 the love you have for your significant other is exhibited through store-bought gifts and cliché Hallmark cards. For singles this holiday is a yearly reminder that you are still alone, but for those that are in relationships it a time to flaunt how “in love” you are with one another. Many people debate that Valentine’s Day is not truly about love, but it is about a partner’s feelings of obligation to shower their partner with material gifts. Is this holiday legitimate or is it merely for the monetary gain of industries? The Outlook weighs in on this so-called “Hallmark holiday”.

Once the ball has dropped in Times Square, it seems as if the shelves at stores become an endless array of heart-shaped merchandise and stuffed teddy bears. However, if we reflect back onto the origins of Valentine’s Day it has nothing to do with Whitman’s assortment of chocolates. St. Valentine was a priest that strongly believed in love and marriage. He would secretly marry couples during the reign of Claudius, an emperor that prohibited marriages. Prior to St. Valentine’s execution, in his last letter, he signed off with the sentiment, “from your Valentine.” When touching upon the validity of this holiday many Outlook editors believe that it is a legitimate holiday, but it has been highly influenced by industries. One editor shared her thoughts, “There’s no reason not to celebrate being with someone you love once a year. It’s like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. It has turned into a huge consumer holiday, but the original concept is nice.”

Americans are expected to spend $18.9 billion this year on gifts for their loved ones this Valentine’s Day. I guess chivalry isn’t dead, after all. Most Outlook editors would like to believe that the gifts purchased for Valentine’s Day hold value, but most feel that they are given out of one’s feeling of obligation to their partner. The editors believe that this obligation is constructed by societal norms, consumer advertisements, and the fact that this holiday over time has become a nuisance. However, one Outlook editor had a different view. “I think that if anyone takes the time and money to get a gift that it has meaning behind it.”

There are positive and negative aspects surrounding the celebration of Valentine’s Day depending upon who you speak to. Spending money on meaningless gifts for the holiday was seen as a negative quality for this celebration of love. Also, singles feel that this day serves as reminder that you have yet to find your own love affair. “I take the day to love myself and other people as a single person,” said a single editor. Amongst the Outlook staff, an overarching positive aspect of Valentine’s Day was the receiving of chocolate and candy. Almost all of editors felt that February 14 is a day worth celebrating, but they recognize that it is highly commercialized.

The debate for whether or not Valentine’s Day has meaning or if it was simply created by the greeting card companies will be questioned long after this week’s Outlook issue is published. Although this holiday is highly commercialized and tends to awaken people’s cynicism it is worth celebrating. We may all be feeding into the materialism of the day, but there is no reason to not celebrate your love for another person. The Outlook believes that Valentine’s Day is more than a Hallmark holiday. Overall, the editors feel that it is a celebration of love and everyday should really be treated as Valentine’s Day.