Valentine's Day 2013: Just Another Holiday That Fell Victim to Materialism

The annual smooches-and-roses fest known as Valentine’s Day is Thursday. Cue the complete transformation of stores from drab gray shelves to pink and red décor. Americans are inundated with so much commercialism that we associate successful coupledom with expensive gifts, romantic dinners, and Hallmark cards. Even kids are victims. Children who don’t receive heart-shaped candies from their school crushes are devastated. Don’t pretend that I was the only fifth grader heartbroken on February 14.

Valentine’s Day is the liturgical celebration of the Christian saint, Valentinus, but it is frequently represented by commercials featuring lovesick couples. Like other holidays rooted in religious doctrine, Valentine’s Day has lost its initial purpose. Among the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church, the death date of the third-century saint, who allegedly died on February 14 after being persecuted and incarcerated by the Romans, is an official feast. St. Valentine’s skull is exhibited in Rome and is worshipped on the date of his death. However, after the association of Valentine’s Day with love began in the High Middle Ages, it has lost its initial vision.

In the fifteenth century, lovers used Valentine’s Day to present each other flowers and send “valentines.” However, mass-produced greeting cards have replaced handwritten love notes; now Americans mark the date by spending thousands of dollars to evoke the, “He bought it from Jared” response. The evolution of Valentine’s Day from religious celebration to mass-commercialism has also extended to other religious-based commemorations, such as Christmas and Easter Sunday.

Though studies have refuted that Jesus of Nazereth was born in the manger to Mary and Joseph on December 25, the date was marked as a celebration of the Savior’s birth. Now Jesus shares his day with Santa Claus, Rudolph, and expensive gifts that feed recessed economies. And what about Easter, celebrated as the day when Jesus was resurrected after crucifixion? It is symbolized as a Sunday to decorate eggs and bestow impressionable children with Easter baskets. This transformation can be extended to St. Patrick’s Day and others.

The wise men brought Jesus gifts to celebrate his birth. Capitalism has replaced the tale of Jesus of Nazareth with Santa Claus the majestic gift-giver. Greed has evolved religious celebrations into perfectly-packaged holidays with equal opportunity for all to ruin their budgets.