Ask the Readers: Is Valentine's Day Too Commercial? (Chance to win $20!)

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  • Comment #7: icky - Submitted by MAJ on February 9, 2010 - 13:46. Like most every other nice, genuine thing in American culture, we have over-hyped and over commercialized valentines day into utter retail submission. time for it to go away.


Regardless of whether you're madly in love, or bitter about the past, Valentine's Day has gotten to be a big deal -- especially for the companies that sell little chocolates and heart-shaped jewelry. While most people rejoice in the opportunity to get some special attention on the holiday (especially after married life and kids has started to take toll), others are burnt out by the consumer message of "buy this" and feel like it's just another excuse to buy, buy, buy.

Where do you stand on the V-day debate? Are you just happy to finally get a chance to do something sweet? Do you already spend enough time with your significant other (and therefore don't need a "holiday" to enforce it)? Or are you fed up with the whole thing (broken hearts aside -- it's just a reason to feed the machine)?

We want your honest thoughts on the debate. In return for sharing your heart on the matter, you'll be entered to win one of two $20 Amazon giveaways. (Yes, that's right! We've doubled our prize money!) Dozens of readers have already won. You could be next!

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Guest's picture

We skipped Christmas presents in favor of a special date together, and we're going to skip Valentine's presents and cook a special dinner together. I would rather have a special block of time together when we can focus on each other than a trinket that he had to stress over. I also would rather have our love and esteem for each other expressed every day instead of pulling out all the stops on a few holiday days a year.

Guest's picture
L. Michelle

Though I'm married and enjoy another holiday to do something special such as dinner out or be on the receiving end of chocolates (won't happen any other time of the year), it does bother me a bit that this holiday truly is for pairs. For example, I have a single friend and a teen daughter who feel a bit left out. Too bad it's not focused more on just showing love to those who matter to you rather than "romantic" love.

Guest's picture

What is most associated with this holiday? Does Cha-ching ring a bell? Greed has taken an innocent holiday and turned it into a money-maker.

What is wrong with celebrating it the way it is intended? Showing love and appreciation for your special person? Doing it in a non-commercial way? Putting your "heart" into it instead of your wallet?

Sounds a lot better than playing the buying game that the commercial entities have told us we must do.

Guest's picture

Whether or not a family chooses to make it commercial is entirely up to them. There is nothing stopping a guy from writing down meaningful words or taking a Wilton class (something my 17 year old son says he wants to do)so that you can make your sweetie something sweet in the kitchen. No one says that people have to run out and buy extravagant jewelry, flowers, candy, or stuffed animals to "prove" you love someone. It's just as easy to take the day to make Valentines meaningful by going round robin round the table and asking each person to tell each person something they like or admire about each other person there. A family could make cupcakes or cookies and personalize them. There are a million ideas to show someone you care on V day that don't commercialize the care that you express to your loved ones.


Guest's picture

yes, it's kinda becoming like Christmas, where commercialism is trumping the spirit of Valentine's. However, since the holiday focuses on making other people feel loved, I guess I can't necessarily call the commercialism bad. I just try to avoid all the materialism and try to stay true to the spirit. I don't buy much and make my own cards.

Guest's picture

No way, Valentine's Day is a necessity! I think we all need to be reminded to do something nice for the ones we love. How often do we make plans to be romantic, or buy someone something that isn't useful like flowers or jewelry? I still have a heart my mom made for me when I was 6, so one can celebrate the holiday without making it commercial.

Guest's picture

I don't understand why you're only supposed to show love once a year. Love is important, why not show it everyday?

Guest's picture

I certainly think it's crazy over rated! Hubby and I try to show each other love all the time.
It's not a deal breaker in our marriage if we don't "Celebrate" VD.
This year.....I asked for a couple new books.

Guest's picture

have become commercial - just an excuse for companies to sell you junk you don't need. Or make you feel guilty for not buying the perfect whatever.
My husband and I exchange cards and make dinner together - it's a perfectly romantic way to celebrate.

Guest's picture

I had to make it clear to my poor husband years ago that I didn't "live for" flowers, candy and romantic dinners on Valentine's Day.

Show me you love me every day - and that doesn't mean spending a huge amount of money, either! And I'll do the same for you.

Guest's picture

It's a lot of effort (sometimes forced!) for very little appreciation. Even the kids' classmates don't care about the card/sentiment. They just want the candy that comes with! The cards are heaped in the trash as soon as they are received!

Guest's picture

My husband already spend quality time together. I don't need a holiday with unrealistic expectations and the push to spend money on each other.

Guest's picture

I believe that every day is significant; sacred, if you will.

I also believe that people in the US, as a general rule, overconsume like crazy. It's not just about having special socks to wear on St. Valentine's Day, although nobody can effectively argue that it's a need. It's about taking more than we need from our planet, other humans, and animals, then throwing much of it into a landfill.

I also believe that high-quality, ethically/sustainably produced is an excellent Valentine's Day gift. And that every day is a good one to eat well, live well, and love well.

Guest's picture

It is over commercialized in the sense that there is a big push in the stores and on T.V. for it but then again almost every holiday but Ground Hog day is over commercialized. Its not going to change and may even get worse.

Now having said that, it doesn't mean the day itself means any less just the same as Thanksgiving or Christmas or the Fourth of July mean anything less to those who celebrate it.

My wife and I do nice things for each other on that day simply because it gives us an excuse to do something goofy and silly. We do nice things just because on the other days but on this day it a co-ordinated effort.

I will continue to celebrate all the holidays for their meaning rather than because a commercial tells what to believe and do.

Guest's picture

I like the idea of having a special day to remember to tell people you love them- although I certainly don't think that 1 day is sufficient! However, the hype and commercialism does get to me. Somehow, it seems silly to buy chocolates and heart shaped jewelry to just because its Vday. I'll admit, my bf and I do like to use it as an excuse to have a nice night out though.

Guest's picture

In my mind, Valentine's Day is just like Christmas or Halloween in the commercial sphere: every year, the time creep expands a little, and you see the decorations, gifts, and sales just a little bit earlier.

But, just because it happens that way in retail doesn't mean that it needs to be the same in your own home. Especially with the current economy, we've talked about doing something fancier later in the year, when it won't be subject to holiday hype pricing, but at the same time, we might just go hiking and call it a holiday.

Setting aside time for your loved ones -- be they significant others, or friends, or family -- is a good thing, and having a day set aside for it is kinda nice. The key is to not let the Holiday Buying Is Good For America And Means You Love Someone More madness get you.

Guest's picture

I like Valentine's Day. It causes both of us to stop and remember why we got married in the first place, and celebrate that. I agree with Andrea.

Guest's picture

My husband and I don't celebrate Valentine's Day as it is not in our religious traditions. Yet, I have a soft place in my...heart...for it and so does he, because it is in the popular culture, we grew up with it in school, and we are mushy. Also, I love the color red. We have been married for 38 years. Usually, on Valentine's Day, he gives me something little and tells me how much he loves me. And we feel we are doing something a little naughty just because we don't really celebrate V Day! One year he gave me sexy lingerie, but usually it is a rose or red carnations, a small candy gift, and this year it was [yes, he gave it to me early] a beautiful card "To my wife, the love of my life" in red and copper, and I plan to hang it in our room. I don't usually give him a gift that day, or maybe I do but not one that can be giftwrapped.

Guest's picture

Absolutely. 364 days of the year, love is held sacred in its ephemeral, intangible beauty; on Valentine's Day, we measure it with a price tag. Poets throughout the ages have struggled to describe love in human language; on Valentine's Day, love is reduced to ten letters on a sugar heart. Kids learn to judge the affection of their peers by how many perforated Spongebob Squarepants Valentines they get during the class exchange. All in all, a holiday which purports to celebrate love has actually begun to quantify and cheapen it.

Guest's picture

To put this simply, yes. Valentines Day has been lost in all the mindless advertisements and sweet treats that happen every year. Back in the day people were writing their own pomes, cards, and gifts. Today all I see is people fighting over the newest Hanna montana, or Edward valentine cards. Great way to show love, nobility, and admiration.

That’s my little rant :)


Guest's picture

If one buys into the hype, then sure. Valentine's Day can become a matter of who buys the biggest bouquet of the reddest roses and the largest, most lace-smothered box of chocolates possible. It can be about fine dining and theater, with a rented tux and ballroom gown, costing a month or two's wages.

I don't do it that way. I love my family, not my wallet, and having a day set aside for thinking of how dear they are to me is a great thing! I'm going to make heart-shaped pancakes for the kids, I hope to make a cake (heart shaped or not) and I'm going to think hard about how I can show my family how much I love them. Me too - it's been forever since I did my nails, and I'll take extra special care with my hair. Thought and time are the main currency I'll be spending, and it's going to work out well.

The month of days between mid-January and mid-February are among the hardest for those hit by the winter blues. I *need* to look forward to Valentine's Day.

Guest's picture

The first year we were married, my husband expressed his objection to being instructed to express his affection for me. No Valentine's Day festivity. Thirteen years later, I have gently requested to reinstate the celebration. This year: a date on the festive weekend.

My kids are old enough to celebrate, and we concoct homemade valentines for friends and family. It's (mostly) fun and gives the kids a chance to think about the people they care about. That's definitely good.

Guest's picture

Growing up, I came from a poor family with 4 children. There wasn't the extra money to spend a lot on Valentines gifts. We knew we were loved and we didn't need a bunch of cards, candy and balloons.

Now, that I've been married for almost 14 years and have 3 children of my own, I wonder why Feb 14th is any more special than Feb 13th or say Aug.14th.
Truth is, we should show our love for those near to us every day of the year. I am in a position to spend more money on my children than my parents were many years ago, but the lessons that I learned from them, I'd like for my children to learn.
Money doesn't buy happiness or love.
Love is something that comes from the heart and needs to be shown daily and even hourly in our thoughts and actions toward each other.

A kind word, a genuine smile, a helping hand shows love around my house.

I'm proud of my husband who serves our country in the US Army, he shows his love to me in many ways. He provides for us and allows me to stay at home with our children. He brings me special gifts occasionally and when he does, I know it is because he loves me and not because of a date on a Calendar.

Guest's picture
Emily M.

Depends on the definition of commercial. I think that simple is sweet, and if it includes a small box of chocolates, or roses, then that's good.

What I think plays into the valentines day is what people's love language is. If it's gifts, then they're going to be indulgent and give gifts.

Guest's picture

Definitely too commercialized.
I like having a day to focus on romance - it's easy to get lost in the business of life and not think about it, but I don't think romance equates with spending money on candy, flowers, or jewelry. And my hubby knows that I don't really want those things, I want time, attention, sweet nothings, a nice dinner at home. He wants that too, so we do valentines day, but we do it our way.

Guest's picture

Sure everything has the potential to get overcommercialized if you let it. My husband started making me a 'valentine' sculpture about 5 years ago. Now every year I get another piece for my collection. I don't know how he pulls it off each year but it is nice to know he is thinking of me and putting time into something special.

Guest's picture
jamie g

Yes, I believe it is overcommercialized! While it's nice that adults have a reminder to celebrate their relationships, including family and friends and significant others, it does create tension and overly high expectations. And all the kiddo junk retails push is crazy!

Guest's picture

You bet it is. Way too commercialized. Over rated. Just like Halloween. it's something retail does to make more $$ in my view. I could be wrong.

Guest's picture

V-Day is much too commercial...but that doesn't stop my sweetie and me from celebrating in non-commercial ways. We just ignore the pressure to buy a Hallmark card or overpriced flowers or red boxer shorts with white hearts on them. Instead, we write lovely thoughts to each other. Or he paints me a picture. Or we cook a nice dinner together. Oh yes, there's definitely kissing too.

Guest's picture

Sure, it's commercialized. That's what helps card shops, candy makers and the like stay in business. We do celebrate it since we grew up on this day. Remember Valentine's parties in school?? We exchange a card and lottery tickets that day. No big deal.