Letter from the Editor | Showing love for people, not things

Published 4:48 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2017

One day in the middle of February, many people come together to celebrate love. Over the years, that day has evolved and many may question if that love is for one another or material possessions.

There are three different legends about saints named Valentine, or Valentinus, recognized by the Catholic Church, according to the History Channel.

One legend states that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. An emperor decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine realized the injustice in the order and defied the emperor by performing marriages for young lovers in secret. Sadly, when his rebellious actions were discovered, Valentine was put to death.

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Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured, according to the History Channel. Another legend suggests an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting after he fell in love with a young girl who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is said that he wrote the young girl a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today on hundreds of greeting cards.

Though there are various legends about Valentine, in most of the stories he is sympathetic, heroic and romantic.

By the 18th century, Valentine’s Day was in full swing. Friends and lovers of all walks of life would exchange small trinkets of affection or handwritten love notes. By 1900, printed cards began to replace the romantic handwritten letters.

In the modern day, trinkets and words of romance are still exchanged, but they carry a heavier price tag than that of the previous centuries.

Before the New Year even officially arrived, those heart shaped boxes filled with sugary morsels began appearing on the shelves of every major store. Jewelry commercials began playing on every other channel, and the smell of roses coated the air. All these items are marketed as being the best or the only way to show that special someone you love them. To me it’s sad.

A day of love and being with those important to you has turned into a huge marketing ploy that shoves products into the faces of consumers.

According to Statistic Brain — a website that generates statistics from all over the world — the average amount consumers spend on Valentine’s Day is $116.21, and the number of Valentine’s Day cards exchanged annually reaches 180 million. The site also says the average number of roses produced for Valentine’s Day grows to an estimated 198,000,000.

I’m not saying it’s a horrible thing to buy something for your loved ones or take them out nice romantic dinner. I’m saying it’s not right to feel like you have to spend money in order to show your love for someone. Love does not come from your wallet, as some advertisements might have you believe.

There are plenty of free or inexpensive activities couples can do for Valentine’s Day, such as watching a movie together and making a romantic dinner at home. Homemade coupons for things such as one free foot rub or neck massage make great gifts. There are even recipes for homemade chocolates that only consists of three different ingredients. 

Though it’s nice to have a day meant for romance, I think it’s important to remember love does not exist in a greeting card, a diamond necklace or a box of chocolates. Those are just material items. Love and romance exist between people, and you don’t have to spend money to show it.