The Commercialization of Valentines Day


Walking through the halls of CHS during the weeks leading up to Valentines Day, one cannot help but notice the National Honor Society flyers, announcing the upcoming carnation sales. The surplus of pink hearts, flowers and chocolates that students exchange with one another cause most people to ignore the commercialization of Valentines Day. However this façade does not appeal to sophomore Emma Johnson.
“Valentines Day is supposed to be a special day spent with all of the people you love in your life,” she said. “It’s not about gifts.Feb. 14 is known as a day for grand romantic gestures toward loved ones but many are starting to feel that this day is overly commercialized by retailers who profit from Valentines Day gifts.
The first mass-produced valentines were sold in America during the 1840s by Esther Howland. On the first valentine were the words: “Weddings now are all the go, will you marry me or no?”
According to the Greeting Card Association, 190 million valentines are sent in the United States each year, but that only includes cards sent through the mail. When including school valentine exchanges that are done in almost every elementary classroom across the country, the number jumps to about one billion.
“Valentines Day was one of my favorite holidays when I was younger,” Johnson said. “Now that I’m older, most people only give gifts to their significant others.”
After the first valentine was created, businesses like the chocolate and flower industries started cashing in on the profits. Today, gift advertisements can be seen in every source of media throughout January and February.
“These advertisements make it seem like celebrating Valentines Day isn’t possible without jewelry, flowers or whatever companies are trying to sell,” Johnson said. “This is why I think Valentines Day is too commercialized. People now think that their love for someone can only be measured by how much they spend on a gift.”
Marketing teacher Laura Cardamon said she understands how much effort goes into the valentines advertisements during February.
“Holiday advertisers will use print media, television, radio, newspapers, magazines, direct mail, billboards, specialized media like blimps, transit advertising that are all directed to the consumer,” she said.
Cardamon said she also knows how much retailers rely on sales from Valentines Day.
“Sales are expected to be $17.6 billion,” she said. “Valentines Day is one of the biggest gift-giving holidays of the year and is a very important holiday to retailers.”
“Consumers buy Valentines Day gifts for their partners, their children, parents, friends and pets,” Cardamon said. “Consumers will shop for gifts at discount store, department stores, online retailers, floral shops and jewelry stores.”
Cardamon said she experiences Valentines Day from a retailer’s perspective because she also works at a Von Maur department store.
“Von Maur displays Valentines Day items after New Year’s Day. Some items I have seen displayed include gourmet chocolates, red dresses and sweaters, cards, mugs, phone cases, red purses, red heart-shaped jewelry and other small heart-shaped gifts,” she said.
As for Johnson, said she doesn’t plan on spending money.
“I have no definite plans so far, but if I do celebrate Valentines, I won’t buy gifts,” she said. “I hope to find unique ways of showing my loved ones how much they mean to me without having to buy into the commercialization of this holiday.”