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Competing for the Rose

Posted 02/13/2023 by Makayla Vasquez

Makayla sits upon a red-lit throne, representing her resentment towards Valentine's Day. photo by Shana Saint-Phard

Cupid Versus Corporate – A Day for Love or a Day for Spending?

Once again it’s the season for love – or at least, that’s what most like to believe. Typically, people in happy and healthy relationships take advantage of February 14th to shower their significant others with love and gifts. As someone who has been in a relationship for a year-and-a-half, however, I cannot stand Valentine’s Day. For the record, let me just say that I love love, but the global holiday has dramatically shifted into a spending frenzy rather than a day filled with romance. 

The pressure is real for those who celebrate. Just a single day out of the entire year, and you’re expected to essentially prove your love for that special someone. That’s what relationships are, right? Expressing your admiration for one another? While there is nothing necessarily wrong with having a designated day to show affection, love should be celebrated all year long, rather than having 24 hours to love each other and then go back to normal for 364 days before the cycle repeats. 

The cliche flowers and chocolates are a staple on this day, and last year, 23.9 billion dollars were spent on Valentine’s Day. Store shelves turn pink and red, filled with roses, hearts, and teddy bears. Candy companies take this day as an opportunity to shape their products to represent romance, ultimately bringing them massive amounts of money. I, too, share the love for flowers and chocolate and the happiness they bring, but the prices of flowers have shot up at least ten dollars to fit the Valentine’s theme, and average, if not below-average sized bouquets are between 50 and 60 dollars. Walking into the floral department at the grocery store, you are bombarded by flowers and teddy bears that, don’t get me wrong, are adorable, but are ridiculously overpriced. The problem is, people actually buy these products, which allows companies to keep upping the prices not just because they want to, but because people will still buy their products, no matter the price, in order to keep someone happy. Consumer spending on Valentine’s is expected to increase 8%, hitting a second all time high of 26 billion dollars. 

Commercialization along with social media, are major contributors to the popularity. Social media focuses on presenting your life in a perfect form, so many couples take the opportunity to post what they received or how they celebrated and with whom, for all their followers to see. It creates a mindset where you’re more focused on the representation of love and what everyone thinks about your relationship rather than what your own feelings are. If others aren’t seeing what you’re doing or receiving, did it really even happen? While sometimes it’s nice to show off and celebrate someone you love publicly, that shouldn’t be the main focus. The expectations of receiving something or going to dinner is a stressful experience for everyone involved. 

On a more positive note, Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be specific to couples. It’s a great day to get together with friends and family, splurge on your pets, or even have a day to pamper yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to spoil you. Spoil yourself and take advantage of the holiday to make it all about your happiness.

Click here to read a related article about the history of Valentine’s day.