Friday, February 14, 2014

No money, no honey

A perfect card, a huge teddy, lots of chocolates and a bunch of fresh roses- this was the idea of a perfect Valentine’s date till the people in love started asking for more from their lovers and eventually from the gift shops.

This is not how the celebration of February 14 started. Its origins stem from fertility festivals of ancient Rome, when young women were not given candy or flowers. They were whipped with strips of animal hide because they believed that this would make them more fertile. A couple of centuries later, Christians celebrated a priest named Valentine, who secretly performed marriage ceremonies for soldiers when the emperor had forbidden it. By the 1400's Valentine's Day was firmly established in England.

Slowly and gradually the tradition changed and people became softer. Roses and chocolates started to substitute the whips. But now lovers almost strike gold on this day.

For chocolatiers, jewelers, hoteliers and greeting card manufacturers valentine’s day is like Christmas in February. The multi-million industry which is thriving on not only on the pocket of people but also on their minds, has been successful in creating a whole week of expressing love. Exquisite roses on rose day, foreign chocolates on chocolate day, teddy bears on teddy day have made room for expensive jewellery and exotic holidays on the V-day.

Another blot that this beautiful day has seen in the last few decades is that while many feel this is a harmless bit of fun, others find it an abhorrent craze, or worse still, a plot by multinationals to impose Western culture elsewhere and increase their sales. It has been reported that many people celebrate it because they don’t want to be seen as unromantic.

A study conducted by a Stanford professor has put the estimated expense on this year’s Valentine’s Day at $130 per person. This Valentine’s Day, enthusiasts are expected to spend more than $17.6 billion on romance-related goods, jewelry, cards, flowers and chocolates, a ten-year high. That’s not even the whole picture, when you include all the other things that go along with the “perfect” romantic experience: heart shaped doohickeys, fancy dinners, candle lit romantic massages for two, romantic getaways, puppies and couples counseling.

But for many it’s just annoying. People dislike how Valentine’s Day represents the commercialisation of relationships, dictating how people can demonstrate love, defining what ‘romance’ should be, and suggesting being loving during the 364 other days of the year isn’t important.

You love it or hate it but Valentine’s Day is a phenomenon that you can’t ignore it. Clearly, the economics of love is serious business.


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