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Elizabeth Panter, Opinion Editor

Around this time of year, it’s very unlikely to enter a grocery store or drugstore without seeing an array of sparkly red hearts and boxes of chocolates. While Valentine’s Day seen as a celebration of love across the world with many different customs in each culture, it isn’t as sweet of a holiday as it may seem.

The holiday has become commercialized and pressure increases when people try to get the perfect gift for their significant other or loved one. The National Retail Federation estimated for 2018 that Americans would spend $19.6 billion on Valentine’s Day festivities. Some of the most popular purchases made are cards, chocolate, flowers, clothing, and plans for the night, such as fancy dinners.

Millions of people rush to stores, making sure they have perfect and heartfelt gifts surprise their loved ones. However, many people have broken up because of the holiday. In a Valentine’s Day survey by WalletHub, 53 percent of women admit that if their significant other gave them a bad gift, they would break up with them, certainly not an occurrence expected on a day of love. Some people may think America takes Valentine’s Day to the extreme, while others may think it’s all in good fun.

“I think it’s much better than Japanese Valentine’s Day, it’s such fun,” Japanese exchange student and Senior Hinata Yokaku said. “In the [Japanese] grocery stores, there’s so many chocolates during the Valentine’s season […] we just give chocolate.”

In Japan, Valentine’s Day is the day where women give chocolate to men, whether they’re friends or a crush. This is done at school levels as well as at work. On White Day, exactly a month later on March 14, boys are given the chance to return the favor.

“[White Day] is the day boys give the chocolates to girls who gave the chocolate to him,” Hinata said.
Not even origins of Valentine’s Day are innocent, but rather lustful. According to The Real Truth, “On the eve of Lupercalia, February14, a holiday in honor of Juno, queen of the gods and patroness of marriage, was held. As part of the celebration, a “love lottery” took place, in which the city’s bachelors drew a young maiden’s name from a jar and became paired with her for the duration of the festival. The new couples were then often sexual partners for the rest of the year.”

A more well-known Valentine’s Day origin comes from an actual person named Valentine, resulting in the holiday’s name. According to Britannica, “Although there were several Christian martyrs named Valentine, the day may have taken its name from a priest who was martyred about 270 CE. According to legend, the priest signed a letter ‘from your Valentine’ to his jailer’s daughter, […] Other accounts hold that it was St. Valentine of Terni, a bishop, for whom the holiday was named, though it is possible the two saints were actually one person. Another common legend states that St. Valentine defied the emperor’s orders and secretly married couples to spare the husbands from war. It is for this reason that his feast day is associated with love.”

Depending on the view one takes, Valentine’s Day can be a day of love and elation, or it could be a day of over-dramatization commercialization. What will you make of it?

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