Valentine’s Day ignites false sense of love through materialism


By Michael Santone, Associate Editor

For many, the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day is etched in an atmospheric romance of greeting cards, candle lit dinners and the occasional afterglow of holiday lust.

Scented bouquets of red roses are ordered by lovers for lovers, as boyfriends, girlfriends and secret admirers douse each other in heart shaped boxes of chocolates, sealed with kisses.

The craze, which seems to resurface about three months before February, invades department stores with oversized teddy bears cascading from display shelves of purple and pink signage.

Even television programming succumbs to the fever of Valentine’s Day with reruns of “Flavor of Love” and eager advertisements from the Shane Company reminding love-struck shoppers of their “friend in the diamond business.”

And when Feb. 14 finally arrives everyone morphs into love-sick zombies clad in XOXO sweatshirts and red glitter head boppers that rattle with every twist of the neck.

Yes, you’ve seen them.

But these are not the reasons I came to loathe the celebration of love and affection.

I mean, how can I blame society for its overzealous approach to Valentine’s Day when we’ve been conned since childhood to hand out cards, with pictures of Scooby-Doo posed on a bed of roses, to our classmates.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Year after year things only get more complicated with the pressure of personalized gift baskets for your high school sweetheart, while practicing the steps for the lovey-dovey couples school dance.

Growing up, my views on Valentine’s Day have always been that it’s a cruel and unusual holiday.

This may be due to my fascination with the roots of the celebration.

The origins are dark and bloody. Legends of Saint Valentine range from his imprisonment for helping Christians escape the harsh Roman prisons, to him secretly continuing to marry young couples under the dictatorship of Claudius who would eventually find out and order Saint Valentine’s death.

Sounds like a fantastic plot for a “made for TV” romance movie on the Hallmark Channel starring Candace Cameron-Bure and Dean Cain, no?

Anyway, the tradition and celebration of Valentine’s Day would evolve over time since its inception during the  Middle Ages.

Tales of love letters, sacrifices and beheadings litter its history, as stories of young women, who are gently whipped by men with strips of goat hide dipped in blood, embark on their journey for true romance. Of course, this is nothing similar to our modern-day celebration of Valentine’s Day, but hey, it’s fun to point out.

Although today we don’t go around striking the fannies of those we wish to be our valentine, the cruel characteristics associated with its history are mirrored in the social celebration of love and affection.

Or how I used to refer to it, the celebration of corporate marketing.

It is here where my discontent for the holiday is coupled with the cruel reality of why I came to loathe Valentine’s Day.

Now, it’s not just the corporatization of love and romance but the obsessive nature that seems to overcome those who participate in expensive gift giving and outlandish pageantry.

For couples who partake in the festivities of walking around with Edible Arrangements, big fuzzy teddy bears and balloons shaped as big pink lips, the importance seems to be placed on the value of materialistic possessions than possessing love.

It’s like that classic Valentine’s Day episode from every sitcom where husbands and boyfriends completely forget about the holiday and go on a manic race to find the perfect gift for the wife or girlfriend.

For those who are single, watching all of this go down could be amusing, to an extent.

There’s comedy gold in some hormone-induced fool purchasing two dozen roses and cheap chocolates in honor of some Saint Valentine who may or may not have been beheaded for treason.

Although seeming to get the better end of the deal on Valentine’s Day, for those who are single and lonely the constant bombardment of love and heart shaped everything can bring out an inner desire to jump from the tallest building around.

This is why the celebration of Valentine’s Day is complete torture, no matter if you are single or coupled.

And it’s the prime reason I came to loathe the holiday of love and affection.

But recently the atmospheric romance that’s plagued the week leading up to Feb. 14 has taken my views of Valentine’s Day and turned them inside out.

As the day of love nears and I’m ambushed by the scented bouquets and heart shaped boxes of chocolate, I realize I don’t want to be Claudius anymore.