According to the U.S. National Retail Federation, the average American spent $103 on Valentine’s Day last year. The average American managed to disburse $103 just to express his or her love on this supposedly auspicious day.
Valentine’s Day, a celebration originally established by a Christian martyr by the name of Valentine, is now globally recognized by countless cultures. While some claim that this is an inevitable by-product of globalization, others refer to this as cultural imperialism, or the intentional influence of one culture on other cultures.
Valentine’s Day is now celebrated across countries in the vast Asian continent, in countries where the holiday ceased to exist few decades ago. These countries include Japan, Philippines, Thailand, China, India, Israel, and Vietnam.
Some of these countries have also adapted their own traditions. In the Philippines, Valentine’s Day has become the day of the traditional Lovapalooza festival where Filipinos gather at one place and participate in one of the most well known kissing events in the world. Although the spirit of love around the world is blameless, many accuse the marketing industry for using the holiday to advertise products. The Philippines’ Lovapalooza festival has been used to promote “Close Up” Toothpaste by the company Unilever. What used to be a great promotion opportunity for stationary manufacturers, florists, and chocolatiers is now shared with corporations selling jewelry, clothing, and even electronics.
However, the greater concern of the globalization of Valentine’s Day is not the success of marketing tactics on consumers, but the influence it might have on the values held by our people. Valentine’s Day now reflects the commonly materialistic love of the 21st century. In the United States, mailboxes are stuffed with flyers advertising “Valentine’s Day Sales” with phrases reading, “spark some romance with little shimmer and shine” and “a girl can never have too many diamonds” on the corners of pages displaying luxury watches and diamond jewelry from a Macy’s catalogue. Macy’s uses the expression “make her feel like a gem all year long” under a picture of a woman kissing the 10 rings she is wearing on each finger. Is this the price one must pay to impress his lover? Is this the modern perspective of true love held by women today? Or is this simply the marketers’ way of convincing its consumers?
Yes, many small businesses depend on this day. However, should corporations be allowed to make extra profits at the expense of our cherished values? This may not seem like a significant issue to some. However, when this celebration convinces men to purchase costly diamond jewelry for their lovers and women to plan great escapes with expenses that reach thousands of dollars, one cannot deny the tremendous pressure it has on our people. The influence does not stop there; children are taught to scrawl “Be Mine” on paper hearts from their early years of education. People who had never been familiar with the celebration as children are now caught amidst a commercial frenzy. It has become evidently clear that the marketing industry has been successful in influencing the celebration of Valentine’s Day for as many people as possible.
The original purpose of Valentine’s Day is to remind us all to say nice things to each other every day. There is no reason for one to wait until Valentine’s Day to do say something nice, buy someone flowers, or plan a day out. Saying “I love you” every day is better than a diamond ring every Valentine’s Day. Marketers will always try to convince their audience that they must purchase flowers or diamonds to make their lover happy. However, true love is not defined by a price tag. Let us treat every day as Valentine’s Day―without the purchase of unnecessary items―and enjoy the spirit of love all year long.