By NICOLE LOPEZ-ALVAR
When most people think of Valentine’s Day, the images that come to mind are chocolates, flowers, cards, and candlelit dinners—all manufactured images by advertisers and media companies that have perfected their techniques of triggering viewers’ tear ducts into consumerism. Once the holiday approaches, people are compelled to be suddenly generous and search for the ideal gift for loved ones, and it comes at a price.
The average person spends about $130 on Valentine’s Day each year, with men spending roughly double the amount of women. “The average man plans to shell out $135.35 to impress the people in his life while women only expect to spend $72.28,” stated a survey.
Advertisements continuously promote manufactured love—filled with clichéd greeting cards and abundant heart-shaped chocolates. Many people feel obligated by these unrealistic expectations portrayed through media to buy gifts, reserve dinners at fancy restaurants, and send Valentine cards to loved ones out of pure obligation to this mainstream holiday.
The Greeting Card Association states that about 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, and that does not include the millions of cards exchanged by kids as well.
Furthermore, it is the most prosperous holiday for florists, with about 224 million roses grown every year before February. Data shows that 64 percent of men and 36 percent of women buy flowers for Valentine’s Day, according to the IPOS-Insight Floral Trends Consumer Tracking Study.
These costly expectations directly and indirectly affect relationships as well.
About six million people anticipate or plan a marriage proposal on Feb. 14 every year, creating a stigma that pressures many couples into making major decisions on a deadline. Coincidently, condom sales rapidly increase right before the holiday. According to the Indo-Asian News Service, “sales of condoms increase up to 20 percent during Valentine’s week,” which coincides with the supposed $15 million spent on infertility and pregnancy tests the following weeks after, according to The Nielsen Company.
All expenses aside, the holiday’s significance in American culture, and in cultures around the world, is founded in the precious nature of relationships—whether with a significant other, family, friends, or even colleagues and classmates. While mainstream media have created a multimillion-dollar industry out of the holiday, Valentine’s Day is a reminder to make sure the people who mean the most in your life know they are loved. Maybe advertisers and corporations do have the right idea, after all.