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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Consumerism is killing Valentine’s Day

Photo by Marquette Wire Stock Image
Valentine’s Day has become a billion dollar industry built on chocolates and teddy bears instead of love.

February 14 is one of those days that is marked on most people’s calendar. Whether it be because of the aroma of roses and chocolates or the sudden appearance of pink and red hearts everywhere, Valentine’s Day is simply one of those holidays that cannot be ignored.

According to the National Retail Federation, the day of love and friendship is set to cost consumers a record $14.2 billion in the United States this year. This being despite Americans focusing their money and attention on only their significant others, exemplifying the issue with the way we are currently celebrating each other.

Consumerism, the compulsion to continue to purchase and own products for its own sake, has become the main feeling tied to the holiday, not love.

Once a chance for people to show their genuine appreciation to those in our life who we love, Valentine’s Day has just become another way for companies to commodify our need to impress each other through material possessions. This compulsion to buy and get is not only affecting our wallets, but the way we connect with one another.

Modern holidays seem to be an excuse for people to consume. On Christmas, we are expected to carefully select gifts for our loved ones. On birthdays, our appreciation of the person we’re celebrating is expected to fit within a colorful gift bag, covered in dainty sheets of tissue paper. The focus of the holiday has been taken away from the people you are sharing it with and put on the gifts they give you.

Despite that, it also marks one of the most profitable years for companies selling gifts for the holiday. This shows that the holiday is not serving its original purpose. We are celebrating objects and not the meaning that is supposed to be behind them. 

Although this particular holiday’s origins have been disputed, it has been a widely celebrated holiday since at least the 16th century. Although not completely commercialized at this point, the 18th century marked the creation of the first mass-produced Valentines Day cards.

Valentine’s Day used to be a day where people would often show appreciation to each other in so many ways. Handmade cards, homemade baked sweets or a nice date night were sufficient because they were symbols of the love shared between people. 

Although many people might still celebrate the holiday in this way, data shows that there is also a poignant expectation of what Valentine’s Day is, with most of those in committed relationships participating, and most of those not in a relationship abstaining. 

In order to return the holiday to its original purpose, those who celebrate should try to show love and appreciation in ways that do not involve pulling out a credit card.

There are many homemade gifts that can show someone your love in unique and unforgettable ways. From a sweet and sincere card to a homemade scarf or picture frame, there are many ways for those who consider themselves creative or crafty to really let their personality shine through their gifts. 

If that seems too tedious or you don’t have as much faith in your artistic skills, spending quality time together is one of the best ways that you can show someone you care for them. Whether it be through cooking together, playing a board game or watching a movie, there are countless ways to celebrate the holiday through connection. 

Although a gift can be a great way of showing appreciation and love, making more memories with that person is an even better way. While chocolates can melt and jewelry can go out of style, the memories that you make with others are everlasting. 

We need to return Valentine’s Day to its original purpose and stop using it as an excuse to show off wealth and idealized relationships.

This story was written by Clara Lebrón. She can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Clara Lebrón
Clara Lebrón, Opinions Columnist
Clara Lebrón is a junior from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico studying journalism and health studies at the university and works as an opinions columnist. This is her second year on the opinions desk. Outside of The Wire, she enjoys baking, reading books, and watching movies.

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