As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, I wanted to take this time to assess the feeling the Bates community has towards the holiday. Although I sampled a small population of Bates students, I think their responses to the question, “what does Valentine’s Day mean to you”, raised some concerns that I know many people resonant with. One of the bigger issues with this holiday is how superficial it is. I, personally, feel that Valentine’s Day has been glorified and monetized, and I would say that I’m in good company. Amanda ‘20 stated “Valentine’s Day is capitalism at its finest”, while Sandia ‘22 claimed “Valentine’s Day is a scam because why do we wait one day to affirm our loved ones. It has become more of a business.” Overall, I think the general consensus is that people tend to scramble to find the perfect gift, so their significant others can post it on social media and make all of their friends jealous. This is a problem because we put so much pressure on a gift that it has become a symbol for love, and oftentimes determines the status of a relationship.
Now, I know I sound like the grinch of Valentine’s Day, but hear me out. I do appreciate that we have a day where we can acknowledge the people who we care about. However, I also want to show them my appreciation in more intimate ways. I believe that materialism takes away the humanistic aspects of a relationship, and after a while, people will grow tired of presents. Therefore, I believe giving a gift from the heart would be more beneficial in the long run. As Tianua ‘21 put it, “Quality over quantity. A gift doesn’t have to be big, most times the small sentimental and meaningful gifts are what truly makes the other person feel like you know them, or you pay attention to their interests and personality. Leave them feeling overall happy, content, and loved.”
And, sometimes the gifts don’t even have to be for our partners. I feel like we have sexualized this holiday so much that we have forgotten the message. Valentine’s Day is about love, and we can love your friends, family, and partner. Although the type of love may be different, it’s important to affirm them on this day because they bring value into our lives. As Jalene ‘20 put it “Valentine’s day is what you make of it. It can be celebrated with your friends or family or people who just make you genuinely happy.” So, if you don’t have a sexual partner, you can still enjoy Valentine’s Day with people who you care about. Or, you can even use this time for self-care because you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else.
And the most important thing to take away is that the affirmation doesn’t end on this day. Loving ourselves and each other goes beyond this day. Salamata ‘23 said it best when she said “Love as a concept is vast that it shouldn’t only talked about or celebrated one day a year.”