What Is This Obsession With Valentine’s Day?

Sarah questions the traditions and importance of modern-day Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is a very divisive holiday around the world. Some love it – they think it is the perfect opportunity to show their loved ones just how much they care for them. While for others, the day acts only as a capitalist ploy that leaves single people feeling ostracised. Personally, reader, I am still unsure of my own feelings towards Valentine’s and I hope to come to a conclusion by the end of this article.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th all around the world by sharing gifts and heartfelt messages, usually with romantic partners. Originally, the holiday was used to honour St. Valentine, a martyr who supported forbidden lovers in the 3rd century. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that birds paired in mid-February and this then became associated with the romance of Valentine. However, it was only at the turn of the 18th century that the holiday became mostly about couples sharing their love for one another, instead of a celebration and appreciation of St. Valentine. There are many traditions associated with Valentine’s Day; for example in Italy, keys are supposedly given to lovers as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart. But as the years have gone on, Valentine’s Day has become more of an occasion to show off and brag about what your partner does for you, or on the flip side of that, to run about last minute looking for a card and cheap flowers and chocolates.



It must be noted that St. Andrew’s is a microscopic population to the larger world, but this just seems to make every celebration that much more extreme and significant. From the start of February, St. Andrews’ shops and restaurants have been coloured with nothing but pink and red. Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s have heart streamers at the checkouts. Bonkers has a whole window dedicated to the day complete with themed Jellycats – which are quite irresistible if I do say so myself. Even the golf stores’ mannequins have been dressed in pink and red. Additionally, speaking as a student who works in town, every single restaurant was booked out the door for the evening. Yes, the decorations are pretty – but why all the fuss?

St. Andrews as a university and as a town just seems to be in love with love. It is not a far stretch to link this to the romanticised fairy-tale story of Prince William and Kate Middleton being in St. Andrews in the early 2000s that undeniably still lingers on our streets. Maybe it is because of this that there is the saying that St. Andrews students will either leave married or as alcoholics… I can only ponder this and wait to find out. Nonetheless, Valentine’s Day has been everywhere.



Despite the original intentions behind the holiday, modern society seems to have morphed the occasion into a completely commercialised and capitalist celebration of greeting cards. There are now rose-shaped chocolates and rainbow-coloured roses in every shop – but does this really express love? After speaking to a few older couples (including my parents), their general consensus is that they don’t bother much with Valentine’s Day, and if they do anything it is a simple card or an act of service like making dinner for the night. Simplicity then appears to show the genuine affection that longs to be shown during the holiday.

Now don’t get me wrong reader, I am a hopeless romantic and I spent the whole week before Valentine’s Day sending my own boyfriend TikToks full of roses and themed cards, just making sure he wouldn’t forget about them. And I firmly believe at the end of the day that if your partner would appreciate a simple gift on Valentine’s Day then just go and buy the bloody flowers. But the conclusion I have come to is that the commercialisation of Valentine’s Day is what has taken any meaning out of the holiday.

I also think that a direct response to this is the rise of Galentine’s. A huge disadvantage of the regular Valentine’s Day is that it can feel almost shameful and lonely to be single, as relationships are pushed down everyone’s throats when sometimes it’s not what anyone wants. However, Galentine’s has turned the day into an occasion where you can casually get together with your friends, have some themed drinks and snacks, and just show your appreciation for each other. There is no need for tacky confessions of love or overly large teddy bears – it is just spending quality time with loved ones whether that is your friends or a partner.

Valentine’s Day definitely seems to have gotten out of hand with the surplus of gifts and expectations, a reliance on purchases to convey love. There are other means of expressing affection for one another than via an economic exchange of goods and I think the day can be equally as special when it is simplified to just telling someone that you love them.



11 thoughts on “What Is This Obsession With Valentine’s Day?

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