For those who are single, Valentine’s Day may not mean much. It acts only as a reminder that there is no “special someone” to present you with extravagant gifts. I suppose in some ways that makes single individuals lucky–it means they have nothing to prove. For couples on the other hand, this day cannot be ignored. The constant flower, Hallmark and jewelry advertisements never let you forget that Valentine’s Day is approaching and you had better be prepared.
In third grade my biggest worry concerning Valentine’s Day was deciding between cards that read, “I love you” and “You rock!” This used to be a holiday I looked forward to. I remember my teacher would hand out a list in class with every student’s name on it the day before to ensure everyone received a little love on what society has now proclaimed to be “the day of love.”
My mom and I would sit down Valentine’s Day morning and personalize every card, discreetly adding an extra Hershey’s kiss for my besties of course. Then we would fill up my backpack and I’d fly out the door, eager to pass out the goodies at school. When the day came to an end, I’d sit and read all the intimate letters from my friends, stuffing my face with chocolate and counting down the days until next year.
As I grew older however, the pressure to give and receive gifts increased. Unlike elementary school, it was no longer required to pass out cards to everyone in class, so if someone gave me a Valentine it was because they liked me. If they didn’t give me one–well I knew what that meant too.
I realized that many of my peers began to attach their self-worth to the number of gifts they received and how expensive or extravagant these gifts were. The holiday stopped feeling like a day to do something sweet for others and started to feel like a holiday everyone around me would celebrate in order to prove something.
Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas, according to Hallmark’s corporate information on their website.
The average person spends about $142 on Valentine’s Day, according to a 2014 survey done by the National Retail Federation. For San Francisco residents however, that will probably only cover a fancy dinner at Foreign Cinema, and it doesn’t even come close to including the cost of the gift purchased from a vintage shop on Haight Street or the cost of transportation for the evening.
Now being in my twenties, I’ve come to the conclusion that many girls use Valentine’s Day to prove to other girls how much they are loved. Boys use the holiday to prove to their significant other how much they are loved by showering them with gifts.
I will admit, I like receiving flowers or being treated to fancy dinners as much as the next girl. But I don’t like when gestures like these feel expected or forced. In reality, Feb. 14 has absolutely no real meaning other than being just a date that demands society to act amorous or romantic. It’s a date we use for “proof.”