Valentine's Day receives too much attention. I’m not saying this as a guy who doesn’t believe in romance, nor do I think that the holiday is only around to sell greeting cards. I believe this because the amount of attention Valentine's Day receives is detrimental to the romantic meaning of the holiday. A day that is supposed to be about love between two people gets consumed by the media promotion and hype.
Just as the Christmas season started coming to a close, stores began promoting their Valentine's Day products. This is not an uncommon trend as Christmas sales this year began even before Black Friday and Back-to-School sales begin mid-July.
Ever since the 1840s Valentine's has been becoming a commercial holiday. Even now the Valentine's Day industry is worth around $18 billion. When you look at February 14th in this way, it makes the whole day seem like one big gimmick.
However, it is still a day when people can celebrate and express the love that they share. The problem arises when the commercial nature of the holiday overtakes the media and distracts people from the real meaning of Valentine’s Day.
The amount of Valentines themed commercials and programs during the month of February is ridiculous. While I understand that television shows like to create holiday themed episodes, it is ridiculous how large a portion of shows last week and this week display their characters in a romantic Valentines Day setting. Both comedies and dramas feature plots with over the top romantic gestures that will probably happen to very few people in real life.
While this can be very endearing it also gives people heightened expectations which can only be fulfilled within the world of television. Even if someone’s significant other planned a pleasant evening out, maybe a movie or a dinner, it would pale in comparison to what either of them saw on T.V.
Additionally, who wants to see the latest Nicholas Sparks’ novel turned movie on Valentine's day that features beautiful people with a love story that definitely beats yours?
Nicholas Sparks Relationship: Ryan Gosling falls in love with you and rebuilds your dream house even though you haven’t seen each other in years.
Your Relationship: You hooked up at a Mod, then continually for a couple of months. Now you are thinking about going Facebook official.
The expectations that the media creates for Valentine's Day also detract from our ability to observe how a relationship is going. Thanks to television shows, jewelry, Hallmark commercials (shown below) and movies the big question has become “What did you do on Valentine's Day?” Meanwhile, people ought to be asking, “How was your Valentine's Day?”
What happens when we start expecting this to reflect real life?
The “what did you do” question highlights the events of the night. It shows that the man (probably) remembered to make a dinner reservation. Maybe someone received a dozen roses or chocolates. Perhaps a woman received some piece of jewelry from a loved one. This is what people pay attention to and often it is how people perceive the success of the holiday.
Often people do not consider how their Valentine's Day really was. Aside from the distractions of presents, flowers, and five-star restaurants, how was the time spent with your Valentine? Did you enjoy the conversation? Did your Valentine make you smile? Or was it the new necklace and dozen roses that you can show your friends that made you smile?
I sincerely believe that a Valentine's Day could involve two people at Lower sharing mozzarella sticks as long as they enjoy each others' company. Unfortunately, the mainstream media has diverted all of our attention to acts of romance and not actual affection.
The amount of attention that Valentine’s Day receives is not detrimental and distracting to just couples. Sometimes the ones who make the biggest deal over the holiday are the single people.
The singles, as opposed to just treating February 14th like any other day, often overcompensate by planning anti-Valentine's day bashes or setting up quasi-dates with friends. In this way they “celebrate” their single-dom while internally marveling at the people in love who surround them. Some might call them crazy and insecure, but they cannot help but feel lonely when images of happy couples are constantly shoved down their throats.
If we really want to express our love this February 14th, then the Valentine’s Day commercial madness needs to stop. Girls can never appreciate their boyfriend’s romantic gestures if they’re forced to compare them to what they see Zac Efron and Ryan Gosling do in romance films.
Couples will never become stronger unless they judge their Valentine’s Day on how they expressed their love and shared their time, and not the material possessions that they gained. We need to turn our attention from the scripted love of Hollywood to the real kind of love that could be right in front of you.