Is Valentine’s Day a commercialized, capitalist ploy? Yes, but it is one of my favorites! I love a good anti-capitalist scream into the void as much as the next messy undergrad, but there is something about seeing an aisle of pink hearts in grocery stores that gets me a little giggly. I love love. I love love songs, I love cheesy movies and every other over the top gushy, Hallmark stamped product that gets trotted out during February.
According to the National Retail Federation, around 55% of Americans plan on celebrating Valentine’s day, but that’s disregarding a large portion of Valentine’s Day enthusiasts: children. Like any other holiday, I’m sure many of us participated in school activities surrounding Valentine’s Day.
Decorating shoe boxes and receiving valentines from everyone in your class is a tradition at many elementary schools that encourages friendship and emotional expression. Making valentines for family members is another way for children to begin to learn how to express their emotions both verbally and artistically in a fun, lighthearted, and yes, commercialized setting.
Valentine’s Day is also an opportunity to celebrate your loved ones at any age. Should you let the people you care about know how you feel the other 364 days of the year? Absolutely, but the constant commercials and decorations, if they aren’t making you groan, can encourage people to slow down. Getting swept up in the Valentine’s Day spirit and picking up a box of chocolates for someone never did any real harm to anyone’s bank account or self-esteem.
A common complaint about Valentine’s Day is that it makes single people feel bad. Now, the idea that a day celebrating love would make the uncoupled tragically sad has negative assumptions of its own. In that case weddings, anniversaries, puppies nuzzling each other, old people holding hands in the park and pretty much every daily celebration of love would send a single person into a tailspin, but no one is that comically out of touch to believe the idea that being in romantic love is a secret key to a perfect life.
Most of all, Valentine’s Day is fun! It’s fun to write silly love notes, fun to receive them, to eat chocolate, to smell flowers, to squish fluffy stuffed animals in Target, and to spend time with the people who make your life better by their being in it. You can spend five dollars or a hundred, you can be alone or with someone, and you can be young or old.
Life is hard enough as it is, and we are all subject to things out of our control. Taking a day to focus on enduring love and those moments when life goes right can help make things feel less chaotic. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, take a break from screaming into the void, grab your construction paper, and make a card for someone special.