Illustration by Kelsey Zuberbuehler

You don’t have to take Valentine’s Day so seriously

Are you drinking the corporate Kool-Aid?

Valentine’s Day is a day that is celebrated worldwide as a day of love, affection and romance. It is a time when people express their love and appreciation for one another through gestures, gifts and messages. It is a time where love—or should I say commercialization—is in the air.


Today, companies are capitalizing on the holiday under the charade of love, deluding the public to buy products bundled up in red and pink packaging. Americans are willing to spend an exorbitant amount of money to display their feelings and affection to their loved ones. According to a survey report from the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to collectively spend an estimated $26 billion this year. Although originally focused on giving thoughtful, meaningful gifts as expressions of fondness and love, the commercialization of St. Valentine’s has turned it into rituals of obligatory operations. In order to fulfill society’s expectations, individuals seem to have no choice—people rush to buy gifts, cards, chocolates and other items to show their love and affection for their loved ones. However, this consumerism has also led to a loss of the true meaning of the holiday.


Obviously, the commercialization of Valentine’s Day has led to the creation of unrealistic expectations. The media and advertising industry present a picture-perfect image of the holiday, portraying it as a time when couples should exchange grandiose gifts and go on luxurious dates. This puts a lot of pressure on many people, which can lead to disappointment, frustration and even feelings of inadequacy. It can also put a significant financial strain on people who feel obligated to spend money on gifts, cards and other items to show their love and appreciation.


The commercialization of Valentine’s Day has also led to a lack of originality and creativity. Retailers and companies take advantage of the holiday to sell generic, mass-produced gifts like chocolates, flowers and stuffed Teddy Bears, which can often feel dispassionate and lacking in thoughtfulness. This can lead to a loss of the personal touch that is so important in relationships, and can detract from the true meaning of the holiday. If you look at rows and aisles of red stuffed animals and chocolates from a dystopian lens, you’ll see just how brainwashed and robotic everyone has been programmed to be on holidays such as this.


It is important to remember that Valentine’s Day is about showing love and appreciation for one another, rather than spending money and buying gifts. Simple gestures, such as spending quality time together, expressing affection and appreciation, and being there for each other, can be much more meaningful and memorable than any gift. For a holiday that often falls short to what people expect it to be, society’s unhealthy expectations of the “day of love” still have a grip on people, causing toxic comparisons and making it difficult to live up to in real life, consequently having a negative impact on people’s mental health and well-being.


It is important to remember that the holiday should be about celebrating love and affection, rather than succumbing to societal pressures and expectations. Couples and individuals can create their own traditions and celebrate the holiday in a way that is meaningful and genuine to them. It’s not worth compressing all the love and gratitude you want to show a loved one to cram into one day—so don’t take Valentine’s Day so seriously.