Valentine’s Day is a very romantic occasion for those fortunate enough to have been struck by Cupid’s arrow. But for those who have somehow managed to dodge the flying projectile of love, Valentine’s day is quite an ordeal. No words can possibly describe the true agony of squeezing through the hallways on Feb. 14th in between googly-eyed lovers and generic drugstore-bought teddy bears. Love is blind so they say, but in such a scenario one could wish that they were blind instead to the horrors of unintentionally witnessing a love bite in the making.
Valentine’s Day is a not a day of love; it is a day to outwardly prove your love and prove to the public that you have, and therefore are, a lover. As for the other 364 days, the same affectionate fervor you had so proudly demonstrated on Valentine’s Day is nowhere to be seen. More importantly, Valentine’s Day extends beyond just emotional pain to as far as endangering people’s lives and the environment on an international scale. Hundreds of people die on this supposedly sweet holiday, and millions more suffer from what goes on behind the scenes of the production of Valentine’s Day trademarks such as roses, diamonds, and chocolates. Valentine’s Day does, in fact, harbor very dark secrets.
Other than being a commercial holiday that contributes millions to Hallmark’s monetary benefit, Valentine’s Day does not yield a whole lot of positivity for such a seemingly warm and ardent occasion. Think about those delicious chocolates in that heart-shaped container just waiting to be devoured.
Then think about the 800,000 children in Cote d’Ivoire and the 100,000 children in Ghana arduously laboring away in the cocoa fields and suddenly the romantic undertone of those sweet chocolates disappear. Granted, who would not want a bouquet of a dozen beautiful, ruby red roses? According to realtruth.org, the answer is the environment; with 100 million roses cut and refrigerated for this holiday, there is an estimated 9,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide that will be released into the atmosphere. Not to mention, these flowers are imported from Ecuador and Colombia, from South American flower factories filled with workers who must tediously harvest, cut, and de-thorn these roses. The result? The flowers die after a week and your lover forgets all about them. But what about the jewelry, the ones with the gorgeous diamonds? An estimated 3.7 million people died in West Africa for those blood diamonds, sweetheart.
As if the preceding facts were not enough to prove the case, Valentine’s Day gets even darker. According to Listverse, a recent research poll claimed that one out of every ten adult is depressed on Valentine’s Day and that 40% of the surveyed population associate the holiday with bad emotions. Director of the Suicide Prevention Service of the Central Coast (SPSCC) Diane Brice stated that Valentine’s Day is the only holiday with the highest number of suicides because of the “‘expectation’ to be in love, or feel better, [which] often intensifies depressive thoughts”.
Additionally, the history of Valentine’s Day is a bit sketchy. Although there may be confusion about where and how Valentine’s Day originated, the most renowned theories linked the holiday to a pagan ritual practiced in ancient Rome called Lupercalia, where Roman priests in the nude would beat women with whips made out of goat or dog hide in hopes of increasing their fertility. Following the event, the women’s names would be placed in an urn and a “love lottery” would commence. As the names were drawn, these women would be coupled off with random strangers to indulge in sexual acts for one year, most of whom would eventually become married to their male partners after the contract ended.
Of course, all of this is not to scorn this wonderful holiday of love, but to make a simple suggestion. Valentine’s Day should not be a day of romantic expectations, when it has such devastating environmental and societal consequences. The bitter truth is that the concept of Valentine’s Day is adorable for people who come in two, but tragically depressing for everyone else.
For all the single ladies – and guys – out there, do not be discouraged by this heart aching dilemma, the burden of feeling lonely and detached on what is supposed to be a joyous and loving day. Crush the stereotype that Valentine’s Day is a couple’s day and instead make it all about platonic love, familial love, and self-love. As for the lovebirds, next time you consider buying Valentine’s gifts in bulk to impress or woo your beloved, think twice about those millions of individuals working at your selfish expense. Writing them a song or cooking a meal would be a more beneficial, reserved, and original way of expressing your undying love.
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