Society commercializes meaning of Valentine’s Day

Adam Schoelz

Members and officers in Rock Bridge's PTA are creating little packages of candy and blowing up balloons for the annual Valentine's Day sale. Photo by Daphne Yu.

For a day so associated with love, Feb. 14 has a surprisingly violent past.

It marks the execution and burial —not birth — of Saint Valentine himself. It’s the start of at least two wars, the date of the ever popular St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in which seven people were murdered.

But in the present, it is the day when couples buy chocolate for each other and everyone else — single people — tries to find something to do.

Junior Ian Gibbs, for instance, is not sold on the value of the day, the frenetic pace and snowballing pressure are at odds with his laid-back lifestyle.

“I don’t really care about Valentine’s day. I’m not really interested in it. I’m not lonely,” he said. “I like being alone a lot; I’m a very introverted person so I enjoy being alone sometimes.”

For other students, however, Valentine’s Day represents a negative aspect of romance.  They feel the day isn’t really about love, only the shower of money on candy and roses. Junior Joe Pratt said the day is cheapened by gift-giving.

“It’s seems, in a lot of situations, like an excuse for girls to get stuff from their boyfriends. In a lot of situations, we get them a box of chocolates—something awesome—and we get a cheap stuffed animal, something lame that we don’t really care about,” he said. “And you also have to buy a lot of greeting cards, and since I don’t have a job, it’s a big expense.”

Junior Rebecca Burke-Aguero agrees with Pratt’s sentiment, if not his words.  Though she feels that Valentine’s Day is a good idea, Burke-Aguero feels that the true meaning of the day is lost in between the cards and candy.

“I think in principle it’s a good idea — one day to hypercelebrate love. But modern Valentine’s Day, how it’s celebrated now, it’s just commercialized,” Burke-Aguero said. “I think you should honor and appreciate your significant other every day, and not just have one day where “Oh hey!` I’ll buy you things now!” You should just spontaneously do that whenever.”
In addition to the monetary value of the day, Burke Aguero is irritated that Valentine’s Day is seen as a day of judgement, where being single means failure.
“As a single person, when you don’t get the rose in class, it’s like ‘Oh, that’s so sad, you didn’t get something when everybody else did,'” Burke-Aguero said. “It’s just not important.”

While Pratt decries the day’s expenses, he does appreciate that he can use the day to hang out with others. To him, being single on Valentine’s day is a rather unique opportunity to celebrate friendship, as well as a monetary gain.

“It’s not that big a deal if you’re single on Valentine’s day. I just hang out with my guys — my guy friends,” he said. “It saves me 20 bucks that I’d have to spend otherwise, which is kinda nice, so I spend that 20 bucks on something else that I actually want.”

Gibbs carries this belief as well. He said Valentine’s day is both important and unimportant at the same time: a normal day with abnormal reactions.

“I feel like it’s just another day,” Gibbs said, “except I get candy from people and Spongebob valentines. It’s fun.”

By Adam Schoelz

Click here for a more in-depth podcast on Rock Bridge’s take on Valentine’s Day by Maddie Magruder!