I’ll let you in on a secret: I hate Valentine’s Day.
The modern holiday as it’s celebrated is nothing but a way to separate you from your hard earned money.
There is nothing religious about the day, as it was initially celebrated. People don’t look to the saints who were honored in the past, nor is there a rush to attend any masses in their honor.
No, these days we honor Saint Hallmark and Saint Godiva and Saint FTD as we meaninglessly toss more consumer goods at one another in the name of ‘love’.
According to the History Channel, American’s started exchanging Valentine’s greetings as far back as the 1700s. The first mass produced cards were from a woman named Ester A. Howland, who used lace, ribbons and colorful pictures in 1840. So, yes, the tradition of exchanging cards dates back more than 250 years. That’s fine.
What I take issue with is that it stopped being a day to let loved ones know they are in your thoughts and your heart in a simple way with a heartfelt message. Rather, it has become a day where we feel obliged to give our loved ones over-priced flowers, candies, stuffed animals, jewelry, fancy dinners and expensive electronics.
Does that seem right to you?
Why do we let ourselves get manipulated by the same businesses that tell us Christmas isn’t really here until you’ve spent more than you can afford to shower your family with things they don’t need?
And really – it’s men who end up getting the short end of the stick on this one. Let’s just look at what the average man is expected to do for the average girlfriend or wife:
A quick check on the internet shows that a dozen long stem roses start at $30 (tax and delivery not included!) – and that’s supposed to be a deal. Flowers, check. A card is going to run you another $5. Card, check.
Now the question is do you spring for a box of chocolates? ($12) A teddy bear with a heart sewn on its chest? ($15) Some balloons? ($10) Check, check and check.
But that’s all just the lead up to the expensive ‘romantic’ dinner that he’s expected to shell out for when prices are jacked up for the evening. Yes, it’s so romantic to go to a crowded restaurant to get rushed through dinner so they can turn the table for the next poor schmo who’s buying a dinner he can’t afford because he’s been pressured into thinking he’s not a good partner unless he does so.
At dinner there’s supposed to be the big reveal of the actual gift. Perhaps it will be some costume jewelry, or if he’s feeling really pressured some actual high end stuff. Maybe it’s a new e-tablet or an iPhone. God knows car dealerships think this is a day where people are buying each other new rides. (Does anyone actually do this?)
The point is that a guy can easily fork over $250 and not be doing anything high-end. Again – does this seem right to you? The thing is, there’s absolutely no reason anyone should be doing this.
Let’s face it – Valentine’s day has become a competition. It’s not about love or affection. It’s about who has the biggest flower arrangement at work. That’s a shame, too, because it sucks the fun out of giving or receiving tokens of affection if you have to do it.
I’ve heard people defend the ‘holiday’ and the waste of money by saying it’s nice to have a day that’s special and romantic. Agreed. But, why does it have to be February 14th? I mean, there are 364 other days you could pick to celebrate your romance. All right – 360, because most people are already busy on Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and make their anniversary a special occasion. Why not have a romantic evening because you want to, and not because you feel obliged to because it’s half way through February?
My husband and I take the time to wish each other a happy Valentine’s Day with a kiss and a hand written note. We refuse to be manipulated into spending money on gifts for each other on a day that has no meaning to our relationship. In fact, I have told my husband that I would be disappointed if he spent $30 on a dozen roses that will go for half the price a week later, and be dead by then.
I’m great with not getting flowers on February 14th, because I know that I will get them on an odd Tuesday in March or a Thursday in July. My husband will surprise me with flowers for no particular reason at all, which is far more pleasing than getting them because he felt he had to. We’ll celebrate our relationship with a romantic dinner on the spur of the moment, whether it’s a picnic in the park or a candle-lit restaurant. We don’t let retailers define when we celebrate our love.
The point is this: Why do people salivate in a Pavlovian manner at the ringing of the fabricated holiday bell? Why don’t you make your own traditions? Let the herd get manipulated into spending money, but don’t be one of them. Find a way to make your own time special, and in doing so truly celebrate the one you love.