For love or for money?

by Annie Burnham

Hallmark Cards celebrates its 100th birthday on Valentine’s Day. Though it is a day dedicated to love, Valentine’s Day ranks among the highest of profit-generating holidays. Hallmark’s data shows that 151 million greeting cards will be exchanged. Only Christmas trumps Valentine’s Day in terms of card-sending. The popularity of the holiday, however, begs the question: “Is this holiday still about celebrating love, or has it become a commercialized day promoted for profit and capitalistic gain?”

The first mass production of Valentine’s Day was in 1847. The idea of showing love to your sweetie has been an important concept through the years. Many people take advantage of this holiday to take big steps in their relationships such as proposing or getting married, dressing up and going out to dinner to celebrate their love. Through this commercialization, Valentine’s Day helps businesses meet their bottom line each year.

Of course, other holidays also support businesses, such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and July 4th. However, it seems that each year Valentine’s Day gets the brunt of criticism for being overly commercialized. Why is that?

Valentine’s Day is soaked in pink and red, covered in fuzzy teddy bears, and smells overwhelmingly of chocolate and flowers. Is it just one big extravaganza for the commercial industry to increase profits and exploit men willing to buy $50 bouquets of roses? Has the greeting card industry become more worried about the bottom line than promoting the foundation of the holiday – love? According to The National Retailer Foundation, Americans will spend approximately $18.6 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts, card, and candy this year. Money spent on jewelry alone will equate for $4.4 billion of that total – an “average of $12.75 for every man, woman, and child in America.” Here are a few more statistics on Valentine’s Day according to the National Retailer Foundation:

  • 9 million pets across America will receive Valentine’s Day treats.
  • 110 million roses (mostly red) will be sold.
  • The average American man will spend $175.61 on his sweetie.
  • The average price for a dozen roses is $85.
  • People will spend $1.7 billion on flowers

So I ask you, College of Business students and alumni: Is Valentine’s Day a special holiday for love, or has consumerism overtaken the celebration?

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