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Kalama Hines

Features Editor

One dozen long stem red roses – $50.  One pound See’s mixed chocolates – $20.  One Hallmark greeting card – $5.  Spending money you don’t have, due to nothing more than tradition – priceless.

Annually, Feb. 14 marks a celebration of love.  For centuries, Valentine’s Day has been acknowledged as a day of romance, and a time to exchange trinkets of love. However, over the past few decades V-Day has been given a makeover through marketing and advertisement.  Roses, jewelry and boxed chocolates now brand this possibly pagan tradition.  It has been given an alter ego, one that involves excessive and unnecessary spending.

Generally, college students do not have excess funds, yet we have been conditioned to spend the little money we do have.  Big business has preyed on our need for gratification.  Now, we systematically and robotically go out and make inessential purchases to display our love.

But for what?  Aren’t there other holidays for that?  Does your significant other need that bouquet of roses, or those new earrings?  Wouldn’t your relationship have seen a greater reward from keeping that money, and showing affection in another way?

Before I go any further, there are a few things you must know about me — I am 29, married and have worked in the retail, as well as the food and beverage industries.

I’ve seen the festivities of Valentine’s Day from many vantage points.

I have been the single, 20-something taking advantage of V-Day’s romantic energy to get a date. I have been the cashier seeing a young person checking out with a gleam in his or her eye and pennies in hand.  And I have been the bartender hearing songs of sorrow sung into the bottom of an empty beer mug.

I am here to say this — Valentine’s Day is nothing more than mid-way point of the shortest month, and the beginning of birds’ mating season.

I assure you that I am not a cynic. In fact, the truth is quite the inverse. My belief is not that there is no need to show our loved ones the affection they deserve — my belief is that we shouldn’t need a certain date to show that affection. Furthermore, the way we show said affection shouldn’t be forced upon us by advertisement campaigns and marketing agencies.

If we are to celebrate a singular date, as a specific holiday, should we not have a clear understanding of that holiday’s inception?

When it comes to exactly when and how the modern Valentine’s Day celebration began, the answer is anything but clear.  Whether it began as the celebration of Saint Valentine’s death or the Pagan tradition, Lupercalia, celebrating health and fertility, there is uncertainty.

One known truth is that in the early days of the modern Valentine’s Day celebration, affection was shown through hand-written poems and letters — much more understandable gifts.

According to the National Retail Federation, in 2013, Valentine’s Day shopping contributed more than $18 billion to the American economy.

Valentines Day has become a marketing ploy, one designed to further feed the wallets of fat cat businessmen.

Why do Americans feel the need to spend tens of billions of dollars, showing their love to those whom they spend the majority of their time with?

Here’s an idea, instead of spending your hard-earned money on flowers that have a shelf life of one week, which is ironically about how long their joy will last, show your love regularly.  And on Valentine’s Day, make dinner together, turn off your cell phones and have a face-to-face conversation — that’s the dying tradition we should be fighting for.

Now, I’m all for feeding the struggling U.S. economy, especially local businesses.  But I refuse to conform to my corporate masters, who tell me when and how I should make those purchases.

I choose not to spend what little money I have on the flowers and candy that marketing capitalists have told me are the standard of yet another holiday that they have grabbed by the horns.


Because I love my wife 365 days a year.

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