Valentine’s Day paints all shopping malls different shades of red and it has been a commonly tackled theme in romantic comedies. The day is also riddled with clichés, so it is obvious that there is a commercial side to Valentine’s Day along with the romantic side with which everyone is familiar.
When you think about it, you are expected to dedicate one out of 365 days of the year to your significant other and get them flowers, lots of chocolate, expensive jewelry and fancy night-outs. So, all you are trying to do is to have a “special” day, but you end up finding yourself in the middle of a massive cliché. These clichés have become an indispensable part of Valentine’s Day, which has to do with the commercial side of things. It also makes the romantic side of Valentine Day lose importance in a way, causing people unhappiness and stress even though the whole aim of the day is to make one another happy and feel cherished. In what ways Valentine’s Day might be harming our relationship even though we have the best intentions when we celebrate it?
One Day or Every Day
There is nothing more normal than wanting to make someone you love happy and show them how much they mean to you. However, the fact that all this love and attention is concentrated on a single day can be actually harmful to the relationship. That’s also the case with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Feeling like that single day has to be special enough and meet certain criteria can put pressure on both you and the person you want to celebrate with. The emotional advertisements about these days can also create a certain level of expectation, which is affected by the expectations of the society in general. We end up feeling obliged to spending the day in a certain way and think “I have to buy this gift” or “we have to do this or that”. This also has a massive impact on the person you love. It puts enormous pressure on them to receive all this love and attention that is squeezed into a single day. However, we shouldn’t need a single day of the year to be pointed out to us so that we can show how much we appreciate our loved ones and buy them nice presents or to take them out for a lovely meal. We certainly do not need a marketing scheme to shape our relationships in such a way.
Valentine’s Day Clichés and Expectations
With the commercial side of Valentine’s Day taking over everything, this special day ends up becoming the epitome of consumerism instead of being a day of love. All the gifts we buy and the things we do on Valentine’s Day are being catered to us and we have almost no say over them. The lingerie and jewelry stores are dying for Valentine’s Day to arrive and flower shops are getting ready to make a small fortune, turning Valentine’s Day into a money machine. What feeds this money machine is of course the expectations and clichés attached to it. And, the bar is higher every year. In the end, Valentine’s Day turns into a commercial drama instead of being a day for lovers to appreciate one another. With social media taking its toll on these expectations and clichés, Valentine’s Day turns into a competition. So, at the end of the day, Valentine’s Day becomes a money trap where your love for your significant other is measured by the amount of money you spent on your gift and how expensive that restaurant was.
The reproduction of stereotypical gender roles is yet another cliché that feeds the whole Valentine’s Day narrative. Valentine’s Day is pictured as the day where men buy expensive gifts for women and the worth of the relationship (or the woman for that matter) is measured by how expensive the gifts are. So, all of a sudden, this lovely romantic relationship turns into a one-sided interaction where one party is expected to be the giver and the other is the receiver. These roles have a negative impact on the relationship in the long run and it does nothing other than feeding the commercial machinery of Valentine’s Day.
Ancient Tradition, Modern Consumption
Although there are different origin stories about Valentine’s Day, there is no doubt that it has a history dating back to ancient times. Some suggest that it dates back to a fertility festival in the Roman times while some claim that it dates back to St. Valentine who let young people get married in a time where Emperor Claudius banned men from marrying so that they could serve in the military. Regardless of the origin story, it is obvious that this ancient tradition has turned into a modern consumption frenzy and it does little to make relationships flourish.