I’m sure I am not alone when I look back and think about Valentine’s Day in my grade school years. Making the perfect container for my Valentines from classmates and painstakingly crafting cards for my peers (which in retrospect truly was not as time-consuming as I made it, but I was that kid). Despite this, in my young mind, Valentine’s Day was a time where I could let my classmates know that they were appreciated (and get candy out of the arrangement). It didn’t have strings attached as it does now in my older years with obligations, expectations, and the ever so eager jump to blame capitalism from my now grown peers.
Yet, at the end of the day, we still celebrate it. If done right, Valentine’s day can be a true leveler, which as children we embraced and cherished as we handed out Fun Dip and individually wrapped Dove chocolates. It was one of the few holidays we were allowed to celebrate in school, alongside Halloween. It was a time for bonding and celebration with the added bonus of a sugar rush. Everyone knew that when it came down to it, on Valentine’s day, every grudge was forgotten and even the boys accepted that pink was an acceptable color. As we grew older, this excitement seems to get forgotten, in favor of comparing and commiserating how the holiday should never have been considered “a holiday” at all and what real value do we get from it?
I argue that perhaps we still celebrate it because of the nostalgia, the hope that we can go back to simpler times of excitement and kindness. There will be those who are more jaded and blame the continued existence of the holiday on corporate greed and societal standards, which to some extent, is not incorrect. Giant teddy bears and flowers are sold primarily during this month to couples who want to woo their partner, but flowers die and more often than not, the teddy bears are cute enough to last maybe half a year before being shoved on a shelf. However, sharing a meal with a significant other or having a Zoom call with your Galentine’s dates – that is a sentiment that should never be lost. Valentine’s Day will lose its magic if we continue to focus on the negatives, so for the time being, let’s simply not.
When it comes down to it, yes – Valentine’s Day has become a victim of capitalism and greed from corporations, but at the heart of it, we all know that there’s still something there. If there wasn’t why would people still be buying absurd amounts of red, pink, and purple in February? The central message of Valentine’s Day is about love, whether it be for a significant other, a friend, a family member, or even yourself, humans have always had love. It is a quintessential part of the human experience and has inspired some great things. Sometimes it’s exciting and sometimes it’s heartbreaking but that’s why this Valentine’s Day, everyone should celebrate, even if it’s just splitting a box of chocolates between friends.