Valentine’s Day Values: Are They Still There?

When I was a kid, I used to love it when my parents would surprise me every morning on February 14th with a small stuffed animal and a box of chocolates. As I have gotten older now and the tradition died down a few years back, it makes me wonder, did a younger version of me not appreciate Valentine’s day for what it was? 

      As I have grown up, I interact on social media apps and see the Valentine’s expectations many have set for themselves. While some of them are quite funny, joking about wanting diamond engagement rings from their 14 year old boyfriends, some were more serious. It made me begin to see how people view Valentine’s Day as an experience to receive gifts, making  me feel, for lack of a better word, …icky. This posed the question: to teenagers, has Valentine’s Day become too much of a materialistic holiday, or do people still value the love that this holiday was originally supposed to celebrate?

    As we inch closer to this “Hallmark Holiday”, I have seen the posts grow, the Valentine’s day expectations of others and what they wish to want for Valentine’s Day. Maybe this is more of an expose on my minimalist tendencies, but I always remember when I was young, wishing for Valentine’s Day to be a remembrance of love between two people. But then in the same thought, I remember always asking my parents what they got for each other, never how they planned to celebrate their love. As a teenager now, I wonder how other teenagers around school, this school, felt about Valentine’s Day.

     As someone who’s such a sucker for a good poll and using the results, I posed on my personal Instagram the question, Has Valentine’s Day become too materialistic? When 55 people responded, 65% of people believed Valentine’s was too materialistic and 35% believed that Valentine’s Day was still romantic. It was interesting as the hopeless romantic I believe to call myself, to doubt my opinions on this holiday and what I believed it was about. 

     When reading the poll answers, a lot stuck out to me, and I enjoyed hearing what other people had to say. One person said, “I think that social media manipulates people’s expectations of what gifts to get, or that they even need gifts in general. I think it puts a lot of pressure around if a gift is good enough or needed because sometimes people believe that gifts are needed to show affection.”

     I agree. I think finding the perfect gift is a very hard thing to do and can be the cause of the materialistic views on Valentine’s Day. It’s so hard to find a perfect gift because a gift, in my opinion, can never fully express how you truly feel. 

      This isn’t the only holiday that people believe is becoming too materialistic. Waverly Oake-Libow (‘23), talked about her feelings when it comes to holidays saying, “I think that we can argue that every holiday is commercialized now, but I think Valentine’s still holds it’s true meaning. I think that it’s easy to celebrate other holidays without any real love, but you can’t really do that with Valentine’s Day, or else you’re missing the whole point of the holiday.” 

      What’s most important is recognizing the idea that these holidays are sometimes used for marketing and use consumer goods to trick you into feeling as if they are a necessity in order for this holiday to be celebrated. 

While gifts may be best for some, it’s not necessarily how all people like to celebrate Valentine’s day. Elise Riddell (‘22), talks about her own relationship experience and how that impacts her views saying, “it’s both [materialistic and about love] because it depends on how the individual takes it. Last year when I was in a relationship, we made it about a celebration of love and had a cute date planned, but we didn’t buy any of the stuff from stores.”

     This was a great idea and actually something I did myself this Valentine’s Day. I am in a relationship and for the past few weeks, we had small conversations on what we wanted to do for Valentine’s Day without putting too much pressure on ourselves. Finally, we decided that the best thing to do was plan a fun day trip somewhere, so instead of putting money into gifts, we were putting it towards an experience. 

      No matter how you celebrate Valentine’s Day, the point of the day is to be surrounded by a person or even people, who make you feel loved and appreciated in whatever way that feels best to you. I think it’s important to not lose the feeling of love that is supposed to be associated with this holiday and give yourself a chance to feel the love. If you’re looking for a non-materialistic way to celebrate Valentine’s day, I think making gifts, as well as finding experiences to make memories are worth so much more to me than a teddy bear.

(Image From VectorStock)