It is that time of the year again when birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and consumption of flowers and chocolate boxes is higher. No, I am not talking about spring; I am talking about Valentine’s Day. For some, this day is infamous; for others, it is magical; and for the rest, it is just like any other day. The origins of Valentine’s Day are to some extent blurry, as some believe it started with Cupid, who was the god of love in ancient methodology, while others believe that it lies behind a Christian saint named Valentine. As the date just went by, I wondered: is it really that special of a day or is it just a hoax created by economists?
Regardless of what category you fit into on Valentine’s Day, it is no secret that it is an opportunity for consumerism. The date is an opportunity for suppliers and companies to profit from the people eager to save or maintain their relationships with gifts. The gifts come in all shapes and sizes: flowers, fancy dinner meals, jewelry, perfumes, chocolates, and much more. The National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics revealed that consumers are expected to spend $25.9 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2023, up 8% over last year. This suggests how important Valentine’s Day is as an economic strategy. Although this can be said about any holiday, including Christmas, Easter, and national holidays, Valentine’s Day, unlike other holidays, has no religious or nationalistic significance. One might say that consumerism is the grinch of Valentine’s Day, especially since once upon a time, before the 1930s, Valentine’s Day was actually about love, and companies did not use it as a marketing strategy.
The aforementioned perspective on this date seems like it would come from a single person. However, that is not always the case. The Journal of Business Research published a survey on consumer habits on Valentine’s Day, and one of the respondents in a relationship said, “Valentine’s Day is a way for retailers to get you to spend money in their stores. People get caught up in the B.S., and I should not have to spend extra to show I care, and my girlfriend agrees. But we both still spent plenty!” If even the people in relationships find Valentine’s Day a scam, then what does this mean for the single people? After all, is this not a holiday for couples? Most people in relationships seem to buy into the idea that this holiday is a way to show their significant other how much they mean to them. It is a day where they get to show love and spend quality time with their boyfriend or girlfriend.
On the opposite end of the spectrum lie single people on Valentine’s Day, who can be divided into two categories: those who overcompensate and those who are too pessimistic. The latter say things like, “It is a stupid day for stupid people” or “Why do you need to show love on only one day?” To some extent, both statements are true. The more intriguing people on Valentine’s Day fall into the former category. For single people, Valentine’s Day is full of many possibilities. They can embrace self-love and pamper themselves. For women, this could look like a “skin care” type of night: ordering sushi or Italian and watching their favorite comfort show. Another option could be to go out with her girlfriends and get dressed up. The easiest guide to Valentine’s Day as a single woman is by listening to Miley Cyrus’s new song, “Flowers,” where she sings the following in the chorus: “I can buy myself flowers […] Talk to myself for hours […] I can take myself dancing.” As for the single men on Valentine’s Day, then this can also be your day to treat yourself to whatever you have been craving. I find it difficult to plan out a good itinerary for you with my little expertise on what men want. Therefore, feel free to customize this day to your liking.
At the end of the day, no matter what your stance is on Valentine’s Day, this day can be whatever you want it to be. This could mean making a political statement and not feeding into the trap of consumerism, which I personally find hard, or taking someone out on a date, or spending an evening with your gals and homies, or showing appreciation to those you love, or treating yourself to a fancy lunch at Trattoria Da Mario after a day of long classes. Even if Valentine’s Day is just an economic hoax, sometimes we need to pretend and believe in silly things to keep ourselves entertained.
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