The Culture of Love

The Culture of Love

It’s the age old argument, but still it’s hard to tell if Valentine’s Day is a day of celebration of love or for gift giving? Our relationships with one and other as a society can seemingly only be measured by how much we spend, our tastes, and our knowledge of where to take each other.  At this rate on the big romantic day surely it would be better to turn to our loved ones and tell them “I love you but find someone who can buy better gifts than me”. It’s already evident that the 14th shall be a day where our social feeds will be clogged up with awful jewellery, Michael Kors watches and badly lit snapshots of half eaten meals, #bestboyfriend, #luckygirl, #love.

It leads to the question, what’s more artificial? The pain of trying to buy the person you care about the most something worthy of their love, not too over the top just in case they didn’t reciprocate the effort, but something that isn’t going to bring forth that sigh of disappointment hidden behind their eyes; or is it the pretence of them uploading said gift two hours later onto their Instagram feed in need of creating this utopian illusion of true love and a branded self-image? Nothing says I love you more than a peachy filter.

However said, love is universal, therefore Valentine’s is one of the most globally celebrated holidays, varying with tradition through each culture, though all involving gift giving. In Japan it’s required that only women give chocolate to men and co-workers on Valentine’s Day, leading to half the annual sales for Japanese chocolate companies each year. A month later men must further reply to their gifts, though expected to return the token with a gift valued two or three times more than the chocolate given. In not doing so can lead to the assumption of ending the relationship or a notion of superiority. Thus leading to extreme pressure on both sides, and is the one day a year worth the pressure? Would it not be better to just buy a present for yourself, because really, who knows you better than you?

Emily Witham

In more recent years, the idea of the “Anti-Valentine’s Day” has become more apparent in mainstream culture in celebration of independence and oneself, either in celebration of being single or fighting against the Hallmark holiday. Furthermore China have created their own “Singles Day” on 11th November in triumph of “one”. Targeted mainly at young adults, the alternative holiday has still fallen through the cracks of consumerism with many e-commerce websites hosting discounted sales similar to America’s well known Black Friday though, exceeding more sales in the 24 hours than America’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday put together.

So, is there any escape from consumerism in the traditional holidays or is Valentine’s Day and its counter parts just decorative of our capitalist culture? Valentine’s Day, globally, isn’t exactly losing its traditions each year, but upgrading them for a shinier, more appealing model. Hopefully, this isn’t telling of our relationships, too? One thing is for certain this Valentine’s, single or in a relationship, wherever in the world, we can all celebrate our love for buying “things.”

Written by Cassie-Jo Millar


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