With the scent of chocolate in the air and red hearts plastered on every wall, it is no secret that Valentine’s Day is approaching, and with it, comes the excitement of millions of couples across the world as they prepare to shower their loved ones with lavish gifts fitting of the holiday. But for the eternal bachelors and bachelorettes, this holiday symbolizes something else entirely.
Over the years, this holiday has deviated from its original values into a commercialism-driven holiday, drifting away from the original message of displays of love to significant people in your life to a holiday focused on giving extravagant and expensive gifts.
“The commercialization and monetizing of Valentine’s Day has changed the essence, the meaning, of how to celebrate love,” said Virgo Handojo, psychology professor. “The commercialism of this holiday can create many different pressures. Every psychological pressure expectation, for example, can create unrealistic expectations for the holiday. For example, if you don’t give a specific gift, and you don’t do it spontaneously without the other person knowing it, then it’s not love. That’s crazy. It’s creating a false expectation, and that’s very difficult.”
Amanda Martinez, freshman biomedical engineering major, said the focus on materialism on Valentine’s Day has created fanciful expectations and added stress.
“Companies and businesses have made people believe that the way to show a person you love them is by buying them flowers and chocolates and other gifts,” Martinez said. “I believe that companies have marketed the holiday so much that some people feel bad when they don’t receive anything from family or friends. I have been on either side of the problem so I am aware of how it feels to either not receive anything or feel bad for not buying anything for a friend or loved one.”
Chance McDonald, senior music education major, feels that Valentine’s Day should focus on displaying love to everyone in someone’s life.
“Society tries to keep and make Valentine’s day a big relationship/sexual day through TV shows and media,” McDonald said. “I do believe it is a day to show extra love and care to your significant other. However, I believe that Valentine’s Day is a day to show extra love and care to everyone too.”
Audrey Smith, sophomore creative writing major, said that in addition to creating extra pressure for those buying gifts, the holiday is often marketed as celebrating romantic relationships, which makes it a more exclusive holiday.
“I do think the marketing around it falls into the trap of making the holiday only for romantic relationships, mostly because society as a whole prioritizes and recognizes (being in a relationship) more than being single,” Smith said. “It is a mindset that we need to change.”
Naomi McLeary, freshman interior design major, said that he has shifted his own mindset regarding Valentine’s Day. Now, he views it as a way to celebrate what he loves rather than what he might not have.
“I think Valentine’s Day is a nice holiday to show those that you love how much you love them, and remind yourself of what you love,” McLeary said. “In my high school years, I hated Valentine’s Day because I was always single around the holiday, but my views changed after junior year. Now I look at Valentine’s Day as a happy holiday and not one of resentment or sadness.”
While society and media try to emphasize gifts during Valentine’s Day, it is important to remember that this holiday does not define you.