Managing Print Editor
13 February, 2023
From the moment Christmas season ends, stores are flooded with red, pink, and anything heart shaped. It’s that time of year: Valentine’s Day. For a celebration of love, it receives endless hate.
Valentine’s Day is arguably one of the most polarizing holidays. Every year there is a flood of complaints about it being shoved down consumers’ throats and couples celebrating their happy relationships. The critiques of Valentine’s Day are endless: it promotes the idea that everyone needs a romantic partner, it’s capitalizing on love, blah blah blah. All of this criticism ignores the tangible benefits that Valentine’s Day offers. The criticism doesn’t come from a genuine place; it comes from a hatred of Valentine’s day and the desire to justify said hatred.
Atholton junior Ope Ogunmolawa summarized, “The only people who hate on Valentine’s Day are either anti-capitalist, or are bitter, lonely people.”
Research shows that love has many health benefits, and Valentine’s Day as a celebration of love offers those same benefits. According to an article by The University of Texas, love can have a positive effect on both mental and physical health. The immune system receives a boost, which causes individuals to be less likely to catch colds and have quicker recoveries. According to the article, this is due to the feeling of being loved and cared for, in addition to the feeling of security being in a relationship can give. These feelings lead to a positive benefit in mental health. Being in a relationship is linked to reduced feelings of depression and isolation, due to the increased feelings of “belonging and happiness” according to the article. These feelings are also associated with lower stress levels in couples. All of these benefits cause a longer life span for those in relationships, which could be very good news for all those chasing immortality.
Many critics attack Valentine’s Day for being a corporate scheme to capitalize on love. This ignores the fact that every holiday is capitalized on. Stores roll out decorations for the next holiday before the upcoming one even ends. By the time Valentine’s Day comes around, the stores are already filled with Saint Patrick’s Day decorations. The only difference between all these other holidays and Valentine’s Day is that Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love. People who don’t like that they aren’t in relationships will jump at the chance to tear down a holiday meant to celebrate love and joy. These will throw out baseless claims like “Valentine’s Day is heteronormative” or “it promotes that people have to be in a relationship.” Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to only be about romantic love. Ogunmolawa explained it perfectly: “It’s just a day about love. It doesn’t have to be romantic love. I just spent Valentine’s Day with my friends and we get each other gifts. Valentine’s Day is the acknowledgment of love, and I use it to show my friends that I love them.”
Gift giving is the main centerpiece of Valentine’s Day. From chocolate to roses to teddy bears, the typical gifts are present on every shelf. Many will say that the expectation to give gifts is suffocating. That it’s just another thing they have to buy for a pointless holiday. These people ignore that giving gifts to loved ones is a kind gesture that everyone should be doing. It shouldn’t be a chore to give a loved one a box of chocolates. Giving gifts is a way to remind your loved ones that you care. Receiving a reminder that someone is thinking about you on the day about love will always be a kind gesture, and not something to whine and moan about. Gift giving has been proven to have a positive effect not only on the one receiving, but the one giving as well. According to an article written by The American Psychological Association, “That’s because when we behave generously—be it donating money to charity or giving a loved one something they really want for a holiday—it creates more interaction between the parts of the brain associated with processing social information and feeling pleasure.” The article cites Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas, the science director at the Greater Good Science Center, and her research related to the psychological advantage of giving gifts. “Part of the uniqueness of the reward activation around gift-giving compared to something like receiving an award or winning money is that because it is social it also activates pathways in the brain that release oxytocin, which is a neuropeptide that signals trust, safety, and connection.” All of those bouquets of flowers and boxes of chocolates make you happy, along with the recipient.
Every argument levied against Valentine’s Day is either accurate of all holidays or a projection of one’s own unhappiness. The holiday is about love, whether it be romantic, platonic, familial, or whatever people want to celebrate. This Valentine’s Day, remind your loved ones that you care, and receive the physical and mental health benefits that come with it.