Before you chase me out of town with pitchforks and torches, let me clarify. When I say Valentine’s Day sucks, I’m not talking about its dark and muddy history. Nor am I a grumpy single guy who just wants to feel better about myself by writing a Hub. I’m more specifically pointing to the exaggeration and money grab that is corporate Valentine’s Day in the good old US of A. And I’m not alone in feeling smothered by expectations and saddened by the prospect of an empty wallet.
How Did We Get Here?
How did this whole thing get to where it is today? It goes back a long way, to the days of the Romans. Without giving you too long of a history lesson, the Romans celebrated a festival called Lupercalia during the 3 days between February 13th and 15th. Apparently, the big event during this festival was women lining up for men to whip them with recently killed animal’s hides. They thought this made the women more fertile. So basically, Romans were good mathematicians but terrible doctors.
The name Valentine comes from two men that were executed on February 14th in different years. Claudius the II of the Roman monarchy was the man responsible for this, and the Church named the 14th after their lost brother. The first Valentine was a priest who performed weddings for young lovers in secret, directly against the laws of the Emperor. The second Valentine’s story, well, I’ll leave you to look that up for yourself.
Anyway, a whole bunch of stuff happened after. Famous actors and authors, Shakespeare included, romanticized the day more and more as time moved on. When the English settled in the new world, the tradition followed them. And year after year, it became more monetized.
Symbol of Love
Ahh love. When we think of love on Valentine’s Day, we think of the cute half naked baby shooting arrows at our rears so that we fall madly in love. Because love originates in the butt region, apparently.
Cupid has different histories depending on what mythology you are looking at. Since we talked so much about Romans, I’ll use Roman mythology. For Romans, Cupid was the son of the goddess of love, Venus. According to the stories, Cupid fell in love with a girl named Psyche (I would like to talk to Venus about her parenting choices, but ok). Cupid and Psyche had this weird relationship where she wasn’t allowed to look at Cupid, and Cupid would only come at night. It’s kind of like a modern day Tindr horror story, where the guy says he’s “only 25” but you never actually see him in the daylight. Nice try, Cupid.
Like most sane women, Psyche eventually wanted to see what she was getting herself into. When she looked at Cupid, he ran away. Psyche was pretty depressed for a while, and eventually stumbled upon momma Venus’s temple. Being the psycho jealous future mother-in-law as she was, she gave Psyche some ridiculous tasks that eventually led to her death (see ladies, at least your mother-in-law insulting your cooking doesn’t lead to imminent death!)
The ending is happy, don’t worry. They end up together after Cupid gives life to Psyche again and she becomes a god. Still, it’s a cute story. And one that focuses on love. Moving forward to today’s version of Valentine’s day, the organic romance has somewhat wilted.
Valentines Day in the 21st Century
In the US, spending on Valentine’s Day is estimated to reach nearly $20 billion. That is outrageous. We’re talking about $20 billion for flowers, candy, jewelry, and so on. It’s all over Facebook and pretty much every other media source. Ironically, this Hub will probably have Valentine’s Day advertisements (though I swear none were intentionally put there by me). Even the people who are not going to be spending Valentine’s with a significant other are planning to treat themselves or buy the so called “anti” Valentine’s Day present. It’s all dollar signs for corporate America.
For the average American, though, it’s all about that expectation. Everyone expects you to do something out of this world for your partner. When friends and family ask you what you plan to do with him/her, you better expect a huge eye roll if you say anything “low-key.” God forbid you want to actually enjoy your day. Me and my partner? We’ll be hanging out at home with some Hawaiian food, movies, and video games after work. I couldn’t think of anything better, and it’s costing us next to nothing.
Let’s face it. Everyone in a relationship wants to show their loved one how they feel. I mean, at least people who actually love each other. So, is Valentine’s Day necessary? The concept is great; let’s celebrate love. Let’s not, however, celebrate how many chocolate truffles and candy hearts, courtesy of my partner, I can shove into my mouth in one sitting (to be fair, some of them were supposed to be for his mom. Sorry, mom!) Let’s also not celebrate how much money we can throw at companies to symbolize how strong our feelings are. I love to feel loved, but I don’t need a ring on Valentine’s Day to know I’m valued in my relationship. Just some food for thought. Also, feel free to send any uneaten chocolate my way. You know, to stick it to the man.