Valentine’s Day, depending on one’s perspective, can either be the greatest annual occasion, or the most annoying. It’s no secret that for years now, companies have sought to capitalize on the sentimentality of people and make February 14 into one sappy yet commercial day where people spend unnecessarily.
“Valentine’s Day is really a Hallmark occasion more than anything else,” says Thaddeus, a 40-something year-old father of one. “There are 365 days a year to show someone how sweet you can be so why single out just one day? It's the florists, restaurants, and jewelers who are the real winners on February 14.”
“The initials for Valentine’s Day stand for VD which also stands for venereal disease. Coincidence?” is the answer we get from 38-year-old Arnold. “Joking aside, Valentine’s Day is a bad day for traffic whether or not you're in a relationship. Usually, I'd celebrate before or after the day. If you're with someone, it's a nice excuse for quality time together. At the end of the day though, it's really a huge sales increase for flower shops and Hallmark.”
No thanks to greeting cards
It was a bit interesting that the two interviewees both squarely placed the blame for the commercialization of February 14 on greeting card company Hallmark. A company that markets itself as a purveyor of love, warm feelings, and other celebratory emotions is viewed as, on the flip side, guilty of making people go out and overspend or over-celebrate on this one day.
With the Philippines being a very Americanized culture over the past five decades, it shouldn’t come as such a surprise that we’ve embraced the Valentine’s Day phenomenon propagated by Hallmark, a 97-year-old company based right in the American heartland of Kansas City, Missouri.
The contrast becomes even more pronounced in Thaddeus’ perspective because he studied in the United Kingdom for some time. “Valentine’s Day isn’t that huge in the UK,” he notes. “It’s obviously something we inherited from capitalist America.”
Like any other day
In spite of that, Arnold in his singlehood bares no ill will toward the occasion. “These days, I just treat it like any other day. When I was younger though, I'd be a bit more extreme. I'd watch a really violent movie and listen to heavy metal, just to forget it was VD. Other times I'd get into it and give roses to female officemates.”
Thaddeus tends to agree when he says, “I treat it like any other day. If another single friend wants to hang on that day, then we'll hang out. But it's not something I plan in advance just to avoid feeling left out. Plus, it’s best to stay indoors and avoid the crazy traffic.”
Not drinking the Kool-Aid
For very sentimental people such as Filipinos, it would seem that Valentine’s Day is perfect for us. What then is left for those who are single on this commercial occasion?
“My opinion of VD now remains the same whether or not I'm in a relationship or not,” Arnold says. “When I was younger and more of a romantic though, it would wax and wane. I'd look forward to it when I had a girlfriend and be a bit bitter about it when I didn't.”
It’s easy to be bitter for the single and unattached on February 14. The commercialism, the sentimentality, and the insane traffic don’t help, of course. For those who choose to celebrate, kudos to you. Just don’t expect the rest of us to distribute roses and chocolates, or even join in the festivities.
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