It’s almost that day again! Little kids giving out cards their mom bought from Target, highschoolers buying their significant others roses from the cafeteria, and couples going out to a fancy dinner.
You guessed it! Valentine’s day.
All those aforementioned activities had one thing in common besides their apparent love connections, it is all spending money uselessly on this arbitrary day in February. February 14th has been taken from being the day birds begin mating to a day where our country spends money and celebrates ‘love.’ This is why I believe Valentine’s Day is a useless, baseless, and capitalist holiday.
I am such a bummer, right? That must be what you’re thinking, but keep reading, I have plenty of evidence behind my educated opinion.
In the United States of America, Valentine’s day is celebrated through gift giving and showering your loved one in ‘love.’ This love happens to be presents and things that usually cost a lot of money, like that special necklace you bought for your girlfriend that just so happened to cost a fortune. For all those people, you aren’t alone! According to the National Retail Federation, fewer consumers are celebrating Valentine’s Day this year, but the ones who are will be spending more than ever: men on average spend $229.94 dollars in Valentine’s day preparations, with women coming in at $97.77.
In America, we have been conditioned to celebrate people with chocolate, flowers, and other gifts, but is that truly the way to celebrate love? We have been conditioned by our economy that this is how we love one another, yet shouldn’t we just be spending time with our loved ones on this, “Hallmark Holiday?”
Another issue I have with Valentine’s day is that we truly do not know where it originated from. You are reading this correctly: we don’t really know why we celebrate what we do. Most people tend to believe the story of Saint Valentine of the Catholic Church. According to this version, Saint Valentine married Catholic couples behind the backs of the Roman Empire, who had realized that single men made better soldiers than married ones and had outlawed marriage as a result. This made Claudius II angry, so he had Valentine beheaded. The question is, which one? When it comes to guys with the name Valentine that were sainted by the Church, there’s not just one…there’s twelve.
These dozen Saint Valentines (and a Pope too!) have some very different responsibilities in the afterlife. Valentine happens to be the patron saint of lovers, beekeeping, fainting, epilepsy, and plague. These Saints have a lot on their plate, and we don’t even know which one is our one Saint Valentine of Rome, who supposedly made our Valentine’ day date, yet that is just one rendition of the story.
Another place Valentine’s day could have originated from is a Pagan festival celebrated in mid-February around A.D. 270. Lupercalia consisted of men going around slapping women with the bodies of sacrificed dogs and goats in order to make them more fertile in the coming year. Another weird tradition of this festival was the ending. The men would draw a name out of an urn with all the women’s names. The woman that they picked would then become their partner for the upcoming year. Often, these relationships would end in marriage or unwanted children. A creepy tradition, no?
This final theory of Valentine’s day is less of a doozy, but a little more believable than some of the others. Another popular opinion is that Valentine’s Day came from a Geoffery Chaucer poem. In the Parliment of Fowles Chaucer wrote, “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.” The day he was referencing was the beginning of birds mating season, the day we now celebrate as Valentine’s day. This was around 1375, and there had never been any record of a Valentine’s day festival before, but they sprang up after this poem was published. This theory is widely accepted by historians, and makes a lot of sense with our history, yet we still call it Saint Valentine’s Day.
So, this year when you celebrate February 14th, this about where it came from, the wild amount of money spent every year by men and women in America, or the baseless claim that we have to celebrate love this day. This holiday that thrives off of capitalism and consumerism has taken over February and taken a pretty penny out of plenty of people’s lives. If you happen to agree with me, just remember this: While everyone is celebrating a useless holiday, we can watch bad movies and eat some candy.