Debate: Is Valentine’s Day a worthwhile holiday or just a marketing scam?

Rebecca Barkdoll, Opinion Editor

Round 1

Side 1: As popular as Valentine’s Day is, can we really consider it a holiday worth celebrating? Yes, the ideas of romance and true love that the day professes are great things to celebrate, but the focus isn’t really on that at all. Instead, we have advertisement after advertisement telling us what to buy for our loved ones in order to show them that we really care. This is problematic since it reduces love to material items and grand gestures. We feel obligated to jump through hoops in order to meet some goal that society has proclaimed necessary for relationships to thrive. But really, who needs that much chocolate, flowers and jewelry? Who needs fancy dinners? If you’re going to celebrate love, don’t do it on some arbitrary day with some generic fancy gifts. Celebrate it in personal, meaningful ways whenever and however you and your partner desire.

Side 2: While Valentine’s Day has certainly taken off as more of a marketing scam, it really and truly is a holiday from the very base of the word “holy day.” It is St. Valentine’s Day, the feast day of St. Valentine who is the patron saint of lovers, epileptics, and beekeepers. It might be irritating to see so many advertisements on T.V., but for people who don’t or can’t show their love or appreciation to their friends and loved ones every day because of distance or circumstances, the affordable and available products everywhere make spreading the joy a little easier. This holiday has its base in genuine roots that celebrated good feelings toward one another. If Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a marketing scam then who’s to say that Christmas or New Year’s isn’t? Most people already show their love and affection in everyday ways, and this holiday gives a lot of people a chance to go beyond to show their appreciation, especially if they have to wait a while for their friends’ or loved ones’ birthdays to come back around.

Round 2

Side 1: There is something to be said for showing your loved ones that you appreciate them, and by no means should we stop doing so. And, yes, there are some similarities between other holidays and Valentine’s Day in terms of how we are encouraged to make grand gestures. However, with other holidays, such as Christmas or New Year’s, there’s a lot more acceptance toward personal traditions that break the normal grand gestures and hectic schedule of events. However, an even larger difference between Valentine’s Day and other holidays is who you celebrate it with. For pretty much all holidays, the focus is on spending it with the people you care about, but Valentine’s Day specifies spending it with your romantic interest. The problem is, due in part to the pressure of corporations looking to make money, our society has emphasized the importance of this holiday to the point that those without a significant other are pitied for being alone. This can lead to a desperate attempt to find someone to date right before the holiday, or it can lead to feelings of shame and isolation. So it comes down to a choice. We can celebrate a holiday that makes a good portion of our population feel inadequate or cause them to make hasty life choices while the rest make grand gestures in order to prove their love. Or we can each find ways to celebrate all types of love, romantic and platonic, that hold special meaning to us as individuals and as couples. Do we really need Valentine’s Day in order to do that?

Side 2: And speaking of showing affection, while all the glittering hearts, obnoxious radio ads and hiked up diamond prices might be a little nauseating, isn’t it worrisome that people are revolting against a day dedicated to showing your love to people who mean a lot to you? In Japan, they celebrate Valentine’s Day by gifting each other homemade chocolates. Maybe the problem isn’t with Valentine’s Day, but with the way that our American culture decides to celebrate (or not celebrate) it. It’s not the holiday that’s the issue then, it’s the big businesses profiting from it. And to say that this holiday reduces love to material items and grand gestures totally negates the real feelings that are going into the celebration. For as many people going out and buying a diamond-encrusted watch, there are people sitting at home enjoying a home cooked meal and a bottle of wine. Not to mention, the after-holiday sales of chocolates are perfect for promoting a little self-love as well. The holiday isn’t everything the marketers make it out to be and people are in no way obligated to buy what they’re told to. But having options makes it more fun. That, after all, is what the holiday is about. It’s about having fun and appreciating the people you love.

Side 2 argued by Aemili Lipzinski.