Opinions about Valentine’s Day seem to be extremely polarized. Those in relationships cannot pass up the opportunity to embrace the holiday, while those who are single are quick to point out the superficiality of the corporate holiday. I know what you are thinking, another cynical rant about a holiday created for people looking for fulfillment in chocolates and flowers. Although I have my criticisms about the consumerism associated with such a holiday, I cannot dispute the positivity that Valentine’s Day brings to many around the world.

“The Hallmark Holiday”

Valentine’s Day is often criticized as a “Hallmark Holiday,” a colloquialism commonly used in the US to describe holidays created primarily for commercial purposes. Yet this critique, in my opinion, brings nothing new to the conversation. What is more interesting is why much of the world has chosen to adapt such a holiday if it is so often referred to as superficial and consumerist? It is true that Valentine’s Day has historical roots dating back to A.D. 270, yet I doubt many can recall the religious history. But rather, most people identify the holiday as a day spent at your local florist, an evening at a romantic yet expensive restaurant, with a side of one too many chocolates.

Materialism or Self-Indulgence?

Despite many previous bloggers attempt to undermine Valentine’s Day by pointing out the materialism it inherently brings, much of the world still feeds into the holiday every year. One must ask themselves is this the fault of corporations manipulating us into “buying” into the holiday? Or do people genuinely enjoy the self-indulgence and satisfaction that such a holiday promotes? Have corporations simply filled the self-satisfying void that has been developing since the 17th century, when the first Valentine’s Day cards were shared?


The Americanization of Valentine’s Day

It is not only Americans that have “bought” into this holiday. Singaporeans are among the biggest spenders on Valentine’s Day with 60% admitting they would spend between $100-$500 on the holiday. The holiday is celebrated in Israel, Lebanon, South Korea, Japan, and India, yet European and American media has influenced many of these countries. This has caused controversy in countries such as Pakistan, India, and Malaysia after the holiday gained widespread recognition from the influence of MTV and other popular television programs. Thus, creating tensions with the beliefs of their respective governments. Perhaps a fresher perspective on the debate of Valentine’s Day is not whether it is a consumerist holiday, as most would agree. But rather, is the spread of modern Valentine’s Day caused by the Americanization of our current global environment?

Of course, this is just one opinion. This is simply an observation as to why such a highly criticized holiday is globally accepted, and embraced in many cultures. Perhaps American and European media has sensationalized a holiday that once existed from religious roots, but now exists as a corporate holiday? Perhaps people are inherently looking for self-indulgence? It is not for me to say, I’m just looking for an alternative perspective so you don’t finish reading and think, “ugh, not another Valentine’s Day blog.”

Written by Ally Martin