Now that Valentine’s Day is over, maybe I can complain about it without seeming like too big of a grinch. This isn’t a post where I bemoan not having a significant other on V-Day. That would be silly. My Valentine could trounce your Valentine, any day of the week. And my complaints aren’t just limited to the day with the frilly hearts. They go beyond that. But Valentine’s Day is as good a day to use as an example as any other, so here we go.
Basically, I loathe the commercialism. I really dislike this idea that’s rammed down everyone’s throats that there are specific days each year where YOU MUST BUY THINGS TO PROVE TO YOUR _________ THAT YOU REALLY CARE ABOUT THEM.
America spent $20 billion on yesterday’s festivities. You read that right. Mother’s Day? $18.6 billion. Father’s Day? $12.7 billion. Did you know Americans spend about $8 billion on greeting cards each year?
I get that the economy needs to do well, and people need to spend money so that it can perform, and we can all stay employed. Yay capitalism. I also don’t mind having days that celebrate a person, or love, or leprechauns. Or groundhogs. What I *do* mind is how the advertising machine has managed to convince everyone that you need to spend some serious money to prove that love.
Check out this blog post about the founding of Mother’s Day. It took ten years for it to go from a nice day to honor mothers to being a shopping bonanza. Or how about how Valentine’s Day *used* to be celebrated, seen over on this blog post, all about how you used to buy cards for the people you hated, not the ones you loved.
Seeing those pictures from the 1840s made the marketing arm of these holidays even more clear to me. We buy things because it’s easy. We buy them because we’re like Steve Martin in The Jerk. We see how things are portrayed, and we don’t think we’ve really done something until we’ve done it the way pop culture and advertising tells we should do it. Here’s the clip I’m referencing:
Martin has all sorts of money by this point in the movie. But he doesn’t think he’s “somebody” until he’s got the bamboo umbrella and drink that prove he is.
We don’t think we’ve celebrated Valentine’s Day unless we’ve got the box of chocolates, the flowers, the card, the lingerie–the whatever.
It’s easy enough to sit back and say, “Fine. Just don’t participate in the moneygrubbing that goes on during those days.” And I don’t, for the most part. But it’s insidious. It creeps and spreads and does its best to take over things that . . .
Case in point. Mother’s Day. Originally thought of as a day to honor mothers. Everybody’s got one, after all. But these days? It’s becoming more and more a day to honor any woman. Because maybe there are some women out there who’d really like to be mothers, and can’t be, and we don’t want to hurt their feelings. So buy them some chocolates or a card or a rose or a whatever, too.
My take on these holidays? Show these people you love and care about them year round, not just one day a year. Valentine’s Day becomes this day of horror for people in or out of relationships. This day when they have to guess what their loved one really wants, and then get that for them, or else THEY FAIL AS A LOVER. It’s a reminder to everyone without a significant other that they are alone.
This is probably why I *don’t* get in a real big huff about Christmas being commercialized, ironically. Not from a religious standpoint, at least. To me, it’s much more important that you live your religion year round, than that you live it on Christmas or Easter. A day or two of “Oh yeah. I really ought to be thinking about Christ” doesn’t make up for a year of doing anything *but* that, in my book.
Ah, what’s the point? Why bother moaning and complaining about it?
I married a woman from Slovakia. They don’t do these silly days over there. Or at least they didn’t when she was growing up. Yay communism.
I hope you all enjoyed your yesterday, even if I’m a bit of a Valentine’s Scrooge. I make up for it with my Groundhog festivities.
Happy weekend, everyone.