All Hail the Mighty Hallmark Holiday

Valentine6 The mighty Hallmark holiday...coming to a calendar near you! America is still reeling from the most recent expression of commercial love: Valentine's Day. But if you missed out, don't worry. Another holiday is sure to be just around the corner.

Do I sound like a modern-day Scrooge of sorts? Perhaps I am. But my dislike for certain holidays, such as Valentine's Day, has little to do with resenting the opportunity to tell my husband, my children, my parents, my dog, just how much I love them. Heck, I can do that any day of the year. Rather, I wrestle with the very notion that society allows itself to be guided by the invisible hand of commerce into declaring that love on a specific day of the year.

Yes, it's great to have a day set aside every year when our significant others shower us with love-gifts. But it's so much more meaningful to me when that bouquet of roses arrives on a bleary Monday morning in January than on the assigned day-of-love. 

Nancy Gibbs at Time Magazine makes no bones about stating her opinion on commercial holidays, Valentine's Day in particular, in her article "A Day to Forget." Delving into the depths of commercial profits, Gibbs illuminates just how massive the holiday really is:


Actually countries that aren't governed by the invisible hand of commerce are governed by the hand of feudalism, the hand of political religion, the hand of unapoligetic tyranny or the hand of anarchy. We don't have it so bad. Why do we have to let the fact that some people make money ruin our holidays? How else are we expected to celebrate? We can't count on people picking our names out of a phone book as someone to give to. And stealing it is impolite. Therefore we have to by our Thanksgiving Turkeys, and our Christmas Trees and our Hannukah Hams(anyone remember that one!), and our Valentine Cards. We can of course make Valentine Cards but then we still have to by the paper. So someone else is "dominated by commerce", you don't have to be. It is true that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. However institutional avarice in a culture is venial compared with institutional pride ,envy, and anger which are usually the alternatives. The first usually causes mere vulgarity at most. The second has caused quite horrendous things.
You can call me a hopeless romantic, but I actually LIKE Valentine's Day! I'm one of those sappy women who buy cards to send to the very special people in my life, though I must admit that most of them are funny rather than gooey-sentimental cards. It's not a subsitute for telling and showing them how much I love them every day: we're a very affectionate family, so that's never been a problem. I just think it's fun, and I take special delight in finding "just the right card" for each person. So Hallmark et al. make money off me. I can think of worse ways for companies to make money.
Oh, Faith, I couldn't agree with you more--in principle. I actually love Valentine's Day! I collect amusing antique Valentine's Day postcards. I love planning a special dinner with my husband (last week, he created a delicious steak and lobster dinner, topped off with chocolate lava cakes). Can we get rid of Secretary's Day instead? Or Halloween? :)
Oh wow, Anne. I'm coming to your house for dinner next Valentine's Day!

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