Valentine’s Day : It’s Not All That Bad

February; that time of year when you are bombarded with chocolatiers, jewelry stores and local florists urging you to consume. Their efforts being for one day of that month, Valentine’s day.

The celebration originally set out as a day to remember the death of St. Valentine, but later evolved to be associated with love. Stemming from the Roman Empire, Emperor Claudius II prohibited marriage among Roman young soldiers to increase the numbers in his army. St. Valentine, however, as a believer of love, disobeyed orders to perform marriages for couples in secret. Eventually, Valentine was caught and arrested. However, before being executed on the 14th of February, he wrote a letter signed, “From your Valentine” to the jailer’s daughter with whom he had fallen in love with.

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Further, interestingly, its romantic element seems to have been stimulated from the French and British believing that the month marks the beginning of birds’ mating season. Hence, we can insinuate that the day progressed to be celebrated for love, and that it was later made a holiday in some countries. However, along with such progression, it has also evolved into a commercial platform today. A platform for businesses to the seize an opportunity to fill their pockets. An evolution that has irritated many, but how bad is it?

A toll of capitalism in its element?

According to Hallmark Inc, approximately 114 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent out each year — falling by only a small margin behind Christmas. The National Retail Federation also concluded that the average person celebrating Valentine’s day in 2015 spent nearly $142. Hence it should not be a shock as to why companies like Hershey’s and Tiffany & Co view Valentine’s Day as an extremely important celebration for business; sales are boosted and profit figures rise rapidly.

However, while companies enjoy the influx of profit on Valentine’s Day, many seem hardwired to believe that anything about commercialization is negative.

Does commercialization really bring no good at all?

Commercialization is the process of managing or organizing something principally for financial gain. Hence, this is a question I find quite appropriate as Valentine’s day approaches. Despite the possibilities of the celebration creating a negative impact due to its capitalized state, I feel its present condition is what allows more business opportunities to be created. Hence, while some may loathe the cliché idea of overpriced gifts and fancy dinners, I believe that it is necessary. These are the elements which I believe allow the day to live up to its hype.

Statistics from the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association show that stores have created 162,394 jobs during Valentine’s day. This increase in employment is also apparent as a factor in reducing a national employment rate. Further, such employment opportunities are not only beneficial to the unemployed, but also to the employed who seek extra but temporary means of earning.

Hence, such commercialization could also be viewed as a driving factor of an economy. In relation to the latter, the opportunities created allow more individuals to be a part of the labour force. Thus, resulting in individuals being able to provide for themselves and increase the productivity of a nation. Further, such change could also be viewed as impactful to future unemployment benefits. These are as, an allowance of public amenities to upgrade is apparent, thus, inevitably aiding the increase of the public’s living standards.

Why Cave into Valentine’s Day?

Imagine walking into your local department store in December and not being able to find suitable festive (Christmas) decorations? This being solely due to advertisers being afraid of being boycotted as exploiters of society? Such is the effect on society made up of commercialization. Hence where there is a demand , there will be sales.

Some may feel that this type of commercialization therefore detracts the true meaning of the celebration and takes advantage of the day merely for commercial gain. I however, find such publicity to this day necessary to promote inclusivity globally. By prominently displaying such trends internationally, it is not portrayed as an exclusive celebration for only those in the West or a certain class. Hence commercializing this day could be seen as more than just a prompt to spend lavishly.

Further, if Valentine’s day still irritates the inner anti-capitalist in you, I urge you to think twice! Equating commercialization to Valentine’s Day is a notion I feel should be broken because commercialization is unavoidable. In fact, commercialization is able to co-exist within a free market society and is commonly practiced around the world. Hence this 14th of February 2017, why not just stick to spreading the good vibes with your loved ones; consume! My advice while you’re engaged in it is to, maybe, pick gifting flowers or a bar of chocolate –  I strongly think it is okay to be in the mainstream sometimes.

Happy Valentine’s Day in advance!

Your Valentine.

Written by: Lee Shing Wee

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of the editorial team at IGNITE.

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