By Annie Fisher and Emeline Daley
As we enter the month of February, so begins the Valentine’s frenzy. It’s the season of drugstore candy hearts, tacky greeting cards, and oversized teddy bears. Smiling couples dominate Instagram feeds, and it seems like there is no escaping from the madness.
The neatly-packaged love stories presented in many romantic movies may be heart-warming and fun to watch, but the commercialized storylines simply aren’t the reality for most people. Beloved movies like How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days and She’s All That gloss over the complexities of romantic relationships and establish an impossible standard of perfection. These commercialized love stories lack depth, originality, and most importantly, honesty. To revisit the same unoriginal storyline time and time again is detrimental to a broader understanding of what love is and what it can look like.
In the same way, Valentine’s Day forces the broad and expansive idea of love into a small box for the purpose of selling useless, mass-produced merchandise. What is often imagined as a sweet celebration of love is, in reality, one of the most epic displays of consumerism. According to Forbes, Americans spent a total of $21.8 billion on Valentine’s Day-related items in 2021 alone. This shockingly high amount is a testament to the holiday’s consumer-driven nature, particularly in the US.
Another problematic quality of Valentine’s Day is its tendency to celebrate exclusively romantic relationships. This widely held perspective is both closed-minded and stuck in the past, as it fails to acknowledge the diversity in loving relationships. Meg Madison ’24 recalls celebrating Valentine’s Day in elementary school, when she and her peers would make cards for one another. Madison shared that, “I thought this was a fun tradition, because it allowed us to [include] everyone.” The perception of Valentine’s Day as a time to celebrate friendships as well as romantic relationships is introduced at a young age, and it seems a shame to abandon a tradition with such inclusive and community-oriented values.
With that being said, celebrations like Galentine’s and Palentine’s Day maintain these qualities, opening up the festivities to a broader range of people. As opposed to creating a separate title and tradition, why not incorporate the idea of celebrating friendships into Valentine’s Day itself?
Expanding the mainstream view of Valentine’s Day is imperative to fostering a more widespread sense of love and acceptance within our communities. Instead of limiting this celebration, let’s broaden the narrative and take advantage of the opportunity to show appreciation for all of the meaningful relationships in our lives.