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Opinion

Modern day Valentine’s Day sells boxed love

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February 12, 2009

We’ve all seen those Hallmark commercials on TV where the guy gives the girl “the sweetest card ever,” or the advertisements for the open heart necklace from Zale’s or the diamond jewelry advertisements from Kay Jewelers…the list goes on and on.

Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending day of the year, right behind Christmas. The legend behind it involves the ancient Roman soldiers and a priest, St. Valentine. In third century Rome, the emperor decided that single men made better soldiers than those who had wives and children, so he made marriage illegal for the young men of Rome who would eventually become his soldiers.

Thinking this a ridiculous law, St. Valentine continued to perform marriages for young couples in secret. While the story behind the holiday has a romantic aura to it, I don’t think that he needed a day to be named after him and celebrated because of him.

I think that Valentine’s Day is just like any other regular day of the year. Going back to the days of elementary school, Valentine’s Day was so much simpler. To us, all it meant was that we got to miss some classes on a school day for a party.

Kids stuffed the corny-phrased valentines with Snoopy, Winnie the Pooh or Looney Tunes on them into our over-decorated pink and red boxes on our desks, and if we were lucky, some included candy. Everybody would get one from everybody else, and no one was left out. There weren’t any obligations or expectations for the day and there weren’t any feelings of loneliness or isolation.

Today, it has evolved into a day for merchandisers to have another reason to make people buy their stuff.  The day already separates those who are in relationships and those who aren’t.

Those who have significant others will subtly mention to their friends that they’ll be busy Saturday, as if they wouldn’t know whom with and why. Yes, some get sucked into celebrating the day by giving their significant others the stereotypical gifts of boxes of chocolates, jewelry, candy or flowers, but there are also some in relationships that don’t feel the hype of this one specific day of the year.

They’re already with each other almost every day of the year, so what makes this one day so much more special? Instead, some prefer the other undocumented days, the average, normal days of the year. They feel that just spending time with each other is enough, that they don’t have to make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day to show how much they mean to each other.

Going out to eat, watching a movie or just spending the day with each other, not really doing much of anything…simple things like that on any day of the year would mean a lot more to me than receiving a lavish amount of gifts on this one day. 

Christie Lauer is a student at UW-River Falls.