Opinion: No Love for the Crass Commercialism of Valentine’s Day

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The following is an opinion piece; the author’s views are hers alone, and not necessarily representative of the entire paper.

It’s time we address that big red, sparkling elephant that wanders into the room every year: Valentine’s Day.

Full of too-sweet chocolates, over-the-top roses, and at least one thousand proposals, February 14 may just be my least favorite day of the year.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good ice cream sundae and Romcom kind of night, but Valentine’s Day unearths this extreme indulgence and consumerism in Americans that I just can’t get behind.

As a young kid, my parents never really celebrated Valentine’s Day. Occasionally my brother and I got card or some heart-shaped pancakes, but my parents certainly never got each other anything. Now, as a senior in high school, I can safely say my lack of Valentine’s Day gifts did not harm my well-being. In fact, I think I benefitted from it.

According to a survey done by National Retail Federation this year, Americans planned to spend an average of $164.76 on Valentine’s Day gifts; that’s not a number to be proud of. In addition, according to Anna Hecht for CNBC, 70% of adults planned on buying their loved one a gift this year.

Now, here’s the crunched numbers: there are about 210 million people over the age of 18 in the United States, which means around 147 million adults bought gifts this year; in total, the United States spent just upwards of $24 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts in 2021.

That seems like a lot of money to spend on a single day. Tanza Loudenback and Liz Knueven for Business Insider reported that in Los Angeles, the average amount spent on groceries each week is around $95, meaning Americans could buy more than a week of groceries in L.A. with the amount of money they spend on Valentine’s Day.

Showing people around you that you love and care about them is great, especially in such a strange time, but let’s not put a price tag on love. Creating a culture in which it is standard to spend so much on a single day can pressure people into buying overly expensive gifts, even if they can’t really afford a $25 box of chocolates.

So why not just let those who can afford a premium bouquet of roses celebrate Valentine’s Day and move on?

Romanticism and love aren’t just for those with big bank accounts. Everyone deserves to feel as though they can celebrate Valentine’s Day without spending money, even if it is as simple as a hug. There is no denying that spending less money on Valentine’s Day certainly will not solve the economic disparities in America, but it may just make the day little bit more wholesome.

And, let’s not forget about those who are alone on Valentine’s Day. Whether it be the result of a breakup, death, or other cause, there is no better way to make somebody feel more alone than to fill social media and commercials with couples eating bonbons and falling in love.

Essentially, being able to celebrate Valentine’s Day is like being invited to a secret society. A happy society with stable relationships, twenty dollar bills galore, and fat teddy bears on every couch.

Do not pass go and collect (or rather, spend) $200 to join the club.

Personally, I would rather tell the people I care about “I love you” 365 days a year than blow my bank account on a card, chocolate, and flowers once a year for a holiday that truly only excludes others.