Back when I was an angsty ninth grader with a YouTube channel, one of my early videos was about Valentine’s Day. Specifically, it was about why Valentine’s Day is a terrible holiday. I tried to convince my very small handful of viewers that it was nothing more than a ploy to sell Hallmark cards and chocolate, and that people shouldn’t need a holiday to remind them to express affection to significant other or loved ones. In the video, I included a disclaimer, imagining my audience’s immediate reaction would be, “You’re just bitter because you’re single.” I assured them that my relationship status was by far not my primary reason for being against Valentine’s Day.
A few years later, when my short-lived YouTube career became ammunition for teasing from my friends, one of them brought up the Valentine’s Day video and said, “You really were just bitter because you were single.” I insisted she was wrong, citing the time in tenth grade when I had a boyfriend during Valentine’s Day, and I still didn’t enjoy any of it. My friend wasn’t convinced, but I stood my ground.
This year, I’m once again single for Valentine’s Day and I am still adamant that it is a pointless holiday. I’ve seen a lot of friends go on fun dates or come up with cute gift ideas, but I think that speaks more to their creativity and thoughtfulness than the merit of the day itself. The components of a baseline Valentine’s Day experience, like flowers, chocolates, a pink card and maybe dinner out would all be more meaningful if they happened any other time of year. Receiving gifts isn’t one of my love languages, so I can’t say that I would ever be extremely excited to receive a Hallmark card, but I would find it more touching if a significant other gave it to me spontaneously, rather than waiting until a holiday for which it was culturally mandated.
In the year 2020, Valentine’s Day is primarily a capitalist construct. The traditions we associate with it all involve purchasing commodities to give as gifts. I would much rather spend time with my loved ones doing something we enjoy or receive something they made themselves. If people want to celebrate Valentine’s Day and use it as a chance to celebrate their love, I think that’s wonderful, but it should be about more than just buying something.
In high school, my friends all told me I would grow out of my anti-Valentine’s Day mindset, but instead, I’ve only become more strongly opposed to it in college. I still think people should give their partners gifts or take them out to dinner because they genuinely want to, not because a holiday tells them they should. If you’re planning on celebrating Valentine’s Day this year, I hope you have a great time, but maybe make a homemade card instead of contributing to the capitalist extravaganza that this holiday has become.