What could be more capitalistic than to create a holiday in order to sell your product? Think it doesn’t exist? Google the term “Hallmark holiday.” Many call Valentines’ Day one of these days.
“No, not true,” say the romantic naysayers. “Valentine’s Day is for lovers and only losers with no romantic liaisons rain on Valentine’s Day. Those people are Valentine Scrooges, Grinches with no heart. “
Now, I’m the first to admit I love the sappy, sweet cards accompanying ten caret diamonds, but no matter what your personal reason for celebrating Valentine’s Day, the broader picture is that it’s a testament to American Capitalism. Ask any man who’s serious about keeping his relationship. The more you buy the better lover you are.
Let’s think about it for a second using a popular Valentine present: the bracelet. First, there has to be freedom to own the materials for the jewelry; then business is done with the jewelers. The jewelers work with packaging companies to create boxes and bags unique to their store—i.e. Tiffany Blue. Then the ad agency has to market the jewels. And, most important, there has to be freedom of speech and free enterprise to produce and distribute the advertisements and the products. Last but not least, the public has to be convinced they can’t live without the product.
Each February 14 we see the effectiveness of the marketing campaigns.
I tried to find the origins of Valentine’s Day, but all I found were disagreements. We may not know if Valentine’s Day is to celebrate a martyred saint, a sex lottery commemorating a Roman goddess, or just the results of hack writers trying to sell a few poems, but we know one thing for sure: Americans will make money off it.
Normally I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. This year though, when many of my freedoms are being threatened, I find comfort in the myriads of commercials telling me not only how to buy the key to finding that special someone, but what I should buy him when I find him. It reminds me I still live in a free country.
This year instead of making fun of Valentine’s Day, I’m going to embrace it. I’m going to buy myself the biggest, prettiest roses I can find, and maybe a bracelet or at least a box of chocolates. I won’t push the mute button when Jane Seymore talks about her Open Heart collection.
What’s the story behind my open heart? It’s a story of chocolates that increase my weight and cholesterol; of jewelry that puts me into debt; of sappy cards that go into the recycle bin a week later. It’s goofy plush animals and expensive lingerie that only looks good on 0.1% of the population. It’s lowered self-esteem if you don’t get the fanciest flowers. It’s a story of companies creating holidays to sell products.
Most important, it’s the stories of capitalism and freedom that make it all possible.