Saturday, February 24, 2018

Open Space: Valentine’s Day just a holiday for business fat cats

February 3, 2016 by Tabitha Ross, contributing writer

Valentine’s Day is a mysterious holiday filled with romantic and heroic stories of a saint of (or in some cases in) love, a saint of justice, protesting prison conditions, who passed away after being locked up and falling in love with his jailor’s daughter; or a saint who continued to perform marriages in secret after young men were outlawed from marriage, as their emperor feared it would lessen their skills as a soldier.

These stories have little to no evidence to back them up but fall in line with the charismatic lure of grand love overcoming any obstacle. Unfortunately, these enchanting stories are no longer relevant to today’s capitalist and almost propagandist displays of Valentine’s Day.

We often ooh and ahh at such stories as Romeo and Juliet or Titanic, but when it comes to showing our modern-day significant other our love, it comes down to an average of $142.31, give or take a few flowers. And businesses like Hallmark, Hershey’s, and Tiffany & Co. spend big bucks convincing consumers to buy their products.

This story originally appeared in our February 3, 2016 issue.

This story originally appeared in our February 3, 2016 issue.

The two people most accountable for Valentine’s Day were both entrepreneurs. Richard Cadbury had the original idea of selling chocolate in a heart-shaped box for Valentine’s Day. Esther Howland was an artist who made Valentine’s Day a mass-celebrated holiday in America through her well-known and very popular cards.

While it’s an exciting and intriguing holiday for anyone who is keen on marketing, business, and finance statistics, I must ask this: is this what we chalk love up to nowadays? A big company convincing your significant other to get you a special gift that’s made in a huge factory far away and also given to thousands of other customers?

Many people’s idea of a personal touch is to buy a mass-produced card and sign their name and maybe a short sentence, if the card’s recipient is lucky. But why? This holiday is so far removed from its Pagan and Christian origins and is little more than a holiday celebrating money.

But, of course, I understand its allure. Maybe your significant other has their eye on a special necklace. Maybe you know posies are their favourite flower. Maybe there’s an inside joke in that Hallmark card. Maybe a romantic dinner and flowers and chocolates are a special way for you to show your love on this romantic holiday. And you don’t want to risk being dumped over a lack of a gift, do you?

Well, you need to consider if someone who would dump you over that is someone you really want to be with. What happened to unconditional love? Does this mean you’ll have to stress over what to get that someone every year, desperately asking Google, aimlessly wandering malls hoping you spent enough to make them happy? Maybe instead you should date someone for whom Valentine’s Day will mean baking heart-shaped cookies together and giving each other personal effects such as a handmade painting, a childhood stuffie, or a photo album.

There are a lot of other, better ways to prove your love than spending loads of cash. Break the norm; try creating a more indie Valentine’s Day vibe. Try getting your sweetheart a gift without a “made in China” sticker tucked away under a price tag.

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