The Wildcat Voice

From its twisted history to its commercial present, is Valentine’s Day the most pointless of all the holidays?

Katie Leskovec, Staff Writer

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When you hear Valentine’s Day, what do you think of? Romantic candlelit dinners and red roses? Or sacrificial pagan ceremonies? Read on to find out the dark truth about the overrated holiday. Put down your box of chalky heart candy, and really question the reason you’re forking over $50 for a dozen roses.

Valentine’s Day is an overall useless holiday, yet it’s extremely over-hyped, mostly due to the money to be made in the name of love.  Even though just over half of Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day,  $19.6 billion was spent on Valentine’s Day in the United States in 2018, according to CNN. According to The Balance, the top five gifts in the U.S. are candy, cards, an evening out, flowers, and jewelry. Annually, about $1.8 billion is spent on candy, and about 52% of people contribute to that. $0.9 billion is spent on greeting cards, $3.5 billion on dinners or dates, $1.9 billion on flowers, and $3.9 billion on jewelry.

Aside from the billions dropped just to show someone you love or care about them (something  that can be done the other 364 days each year, by the way), the holiday is painfully cheesy. You can’t go five seconds on February 14th without seeing a cheesy movie or hearing a cliche-filled love song.

Chefs pouring chocolate into a heart mold measuring seven feet tall and five inches deep, and weighing 350 pounds.

Valentine’s Day has perhaps more serious negative implications than just being annoying, though.  It empowers gender stereotypes. Stereotypically, on Valentine’s Day, men are supposed to go to great lengths to prove their love for a girl, while women are supposed to relax as the men give them a “perfect day.” It supports the stereotype that men are dominant in the relationship and that women aren’t complete without them.

Valentine’s Day also is stressful for those in relationships. It’s another expensive day to plan on top of days like birthdays, anniversaries, and other holidays, but with much less emotional value.

And for those who aren’t in relationships, it makes them feel unloved. They are surrounded by couples, movies, and other Valentine’s propaganda. As a result, Valentine’s Day has become a day to wallow in self-pity and bitterness.  For example, to celebrate the holiday, a zoo in El Paso, Texas has allowed people to name a cockroach after their exes. The zoo plans on live streaming the cockroaches being fed to a meerkat.

So, where did this holiday–which has been reduced to superficial commercialism–originate?

Many believe the day first originated in Rome, right around the fifth century. St. Valentine was a third-century Roman priest. After Emperor Claudius outlawed marriage for young men, Valentine defied him, performing marriages in secret. He was later executed. Valentine’s Day may have been placed on the day of St. Valentine’s death or burial, but some claim the Christian Church used it as a reason to Christianize the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. According to the History Channel, during Lupercalia, “The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide.”

How romantic!

St. Valentine

Although the day of love is no longer celebrated with sacrificial ceremonies, many countries have their own unique celebrations. In Denmark, pressed white flowers called snowdrops are exchanged, rather than roses. According to HuffPost, “men also give women gaekkebrev, a “joking letter” consisting of a funny poem or rhyme written on intricately cut paper and signed only with anonymous dots. If a woman who receives the gaekkebrev can correctly guess the sender, she earns herself an Easter egg later that year.”

In South Korea, they take multiple days to celebrate love. On February 14, they celebrate Valentine’s day, and women give men gifts of chocolate and flowers. On March 14, they celebrate White Day, where men return the favor. On April 14, also known as Black Day, the single people mourn their loneliness by eating jajangmyeon, or black bean-paste noodles.

In South Africa, they celebrate with things such as festivals and flowers. It’s also a tradition for women to pin the name of their love interest on their shirtsleeves, which was a part of Lupercalia.

Many other countries celebrate Valentine’s Day, such as China, Brazil, Italy, the Philippines, Wales and England.

Although many people express their dislike for Valentine’s Day, I wanted to see what students in Mayfield felt about the day. Hannah Gross, an eighth-grade student, said, “There’s nothing special about it, it’s just a day… the only good thing about it is the candy hearts, and they aren’t even good.”

Another student, Nikki Kolure, said, “What’s the point of it? You can give someone something anytime. It’s just a holiday for couples.” While the majority of interviewees said they didn’t like Valentine’s Day, some people supported it. An anonymous student said, “I think Valentine’s day is cool, because you can buy chocolate for very cheap. I don’t understand why people get so angry over it. Like, I’m sorry that you’re lonely.”

Ouch.

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From its twisted history to its commercial present, is Valentine’s Day the most pointless of all the holidays?