By Katie Barragry
There are two types of people in the world; those who adore Valentine’s Day and those who despise it. Just when you thought you were finished seeing Instagram posts of smug couples skiing on their Christmas break and people’s snaps of their latest Pandora piece from their significant other, February 14th seems to have appeared from nowhere and the “Day of Love” is upon us once more.
Whether you view Valentine’s Day as a historic or religious commemoration, or simply as a traditional celebration of love, you cannot deny that it has become a “Hallmark Holiday”, with businesses squeezing every last cent out of the public, for yet another commercialised holiday. Have the long, winding rows of expensive chocolates and bright red flowers hindered your ability to do your weekly food shop in Tesco in peace? Has the powerful aroma of Dior aftershave nearly knocked you unconscious in Boots? Have you been blinded by the brightly coloured, tacky greeting cards that screech “Be my Valentine?” while you search for a “Bon Voyage” card for a former colleague in Eason? Shops and businesses are decked out in rose petals, mini Cupids and heart-shaped pink balloons, reminding people of their relationship status, just in case they weren’t already aware.
As February 14th approaches, you can see men beginning to panic, mirroring the Christmas period a few weeks ago. You literally just had the stress of finding herself a Christmas present and now you are expected to get her even more if you want to stay in the good books? Like Christmas and Easter, Valentine’s Day is becoming more commercialised and materialistic every year. What has lead women believe they need to purchase bright red, sexy lingerie at extortionate prices from a local boutique for the day that’s in it? Or that men need to splurge on an enormous bunch of overpriced flowers with the ornate wrapping for their partner? Why do couples feel the need to buy each other life-sized teddy bears to eternally sit awkwardly in the corner of the spare room? Would a simple box of chocolates and flowers from Supervalu down the road not do the job? Or even a glass of wine and a film by the fire? Evidently not. Of course, businesses are going to continue to milk this holiday, provided consumer demand for glitzy greeting cards, expensive jewellery and luxurious chocolate remains. As members of the public, we are only feeding into the commercialised rituals of Valentine’s Day and allowing this extravagant phenomenon to grow year after year.
Can we not just see the day as a celebration of love, affection and appreciation for our loved ones? Excessive commercialism and advertising are mortifying and degrading. Why are we expected to shower our loved ones in rose petals, spend a fortune on dinner, all washed down with a bottle of Merlot? Should your love not be private, intimate and special? Of course, write your personalised Valentine’s Card and demonstrate to your partner, your family or your friends that you love and appreciate them. However, the card doesn’t need to cost €7. There is absolutely no need to spend a fortune on a wash, cut and blow-dry for an evening where you will be completely ripped off for a mediocre meal out. You really don’t need to send a bunch of pretty delicate yet, costly flowers to your girlfriend’s office. Don’t buy meaningless gifts just for the sake of it. And please, re-think the man-sized, fluffy pink teddy bear.