Remember to replace your ornaments and snowflakes with hearts and roses – how else will everyone know what holiday to celebrate? From cutesy gifts to tasty chocolates, materialistic possessions quantify your love on Valentine's Day.
Commodification is the backbone of capitalism and everyone falls for it, year after year.
The commercialization of romance is the great profit strategy. People make elaborate plans to ask the person they are already dating to be their "valentine" and shower them with petals and presents, proving their love and affection for one day of the year.
The holiday is no longer about celebrating love. Although, it really never was.
The origins of the holiday date back to a pagan holiday called Lupercalia, during which men sacrificed dogs and goats to whip women with their hides to promote fertility, according to National Geographic. The celebration was rebranded and Christianized and renamed as St. Valentine’s Day.
There is no clear answer as to how Valentine’s Day came to represent romance. Some argue poets and writers such as Chaucer and Shakespeare created the romantic connotations due to the holiday's temporal proximity to the bird-mating season in Europe. Others claim that St. Valentine was a priest who wed couples in secret during third century Roman Emperor Claudius II's marriage ban.
Though romantic implications began centuries ago, mass media is responsible for the confusing entanglement between romance and marketing. Chocolate advertisements are linked to lust, women’s magazines list must-buy products and advice columns with date ideas dominate media for the month of February.
The romanticization of commodities led to the commodification of romance, as explained by Israeli sociologist and professor Ella Illouz.
Illouz argues love is trivialized by public displays, lovers being motivated by approval to stage photographs and dinner speeches rather than participating in the holiday for personal development. The capitalization of Valentine's Day motivates people to post intimate moments, love letters and other displays of affections on social media for everyone to see.
Showing off their "bigger-than-thy" bouquets and gifts, social media lovers circulate the commodification of romance without even realizing it.
At the end of the day, consumers are left with trinkets to be forgotten by the next Valentine’s Day, flowers that die within weeks and an eerily empty feeling.
The individual, while helping fuel the ever-increasing production rate, never benefits on an interpersonal level from a capitalist society.
Though many leisure goods we purchase (or their packaging) will outlive us, there's no reason to value them over genuine love. Love is priceless.
By MARIYA GONCHARENKO
Featured image courtesy of Summer Smith.