How the C stole V-Day
Once again, it was time for heart-shaped chocolates, red roses, and declarations of love, all in the name of Valentine´s Day! Valentine’s Day has been around for quite some time, but we don’t seem to know its origin. Different sources propose different stories, but none seem to agree on how the day became a day on which we celebrate love. Most do, however, trace the existence of a day called Valentine’s Day back to the Roman period, but everything else is unclear. Its origin might not be too relevant though. I think Valentine’s Day is great, the love idea behind it is sweet and I think it’s a wonderful day to acknowledge a partner, friend, or family member. What I don’t like about it is that, just as with every other holiday, capitalism decided to.. well.. capitalize on it. Almost every single business has a Valentine’s Day sale, clothing line, section, or discount around and on the 14th of February and I can’t stand it.
After Christmas and New Year’s, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner to keep the money wagon in full effect. On average, in the Netherlands, people between 18 to 29 years old spent 62 (!) euros on Valentine’s Day present in 2020*. That is a lot of money especially for this age category, and of course because it’s just a made-up holiday? With that being said, this average is worth absolutely nothing when comparing the Netherlands to the United States. You probably already suspected it and yes Valentine’s Day is celebrated much more elaborate in the US, but I was shocked, so I still have to share. The overall average spent on Valentine’s Day is 160 USD! These numbers made me think about how capitalism has infiltrated us on days like Valentine’s. When you discuss the holiday with any person taking part in it, the topic of conversation is almost always ‘what are you getting person x or y?’ and it rarely turns into a discussion about the meaning of love. *https://gemiddeldgezien.nl/gemiddelde-uitgaven-valentijnsdag
Besides the financial (i.e., capitalist) aspect of V-Day, the holiday simultaneously serves as a wonderful opportunity for corporations to exploit the straight people narrative. For example, when we look at marketing posters, commercials, the colours of gifts (pink for women, blue for men), and cards we see a reinforcement of the traditional gender norms. Although in recent years a lot of businesses have become a tad more inclusive, even if it’s just to show how diverse they can be, the cis-gendered narrative still dominates the conversation on Valentine’s Day and that should stop. If we are so adamant about keeping all our holidays capitalist by nature, then please, make sure all of society is represented in that process.
Capitalism, inequality; V-Day has it all. We might not stop it, but maybe we can seize the opportunity and help others. Don’t just buy a gift for your loved ones, buy a gift for someone or something in need. I’ve listed 5 charities below, where you could donate (if you have something to spare):
1. Save the Children: https://www.savethechildren.org/us/charity-stories/valentines-day
2. The Valentine Project: https://thevalentineproject.org/
3. Global Health and Development Fund: https://funds.effectivealtruism.org/funds/global-development?utm_source=giving-what-we-can&utm_medium=partner_charity&utm_campaign=partner_charity_donations
4. Animal Welfare Fund: https://funds.effectivealtruism.org/funds/animal-welfare?utm_source=giving-what-we-can&utm_medium=partner_charity&utm_campaign=partner_charity_donations
5. Fund A Forest: https://fundaforest.eu/en/projects/project_details/the-climate-march-forest?gclid=Cj0KCQiAr5iQBhCsARIsAPcwROPlil8GMlJ5E9K2IVSL1OcjCQQZM4GpB776NNgumovG4t15VywH13MaAgeWEALw_wcB