When you walk into your local market, what is the first thing you see?
Red, Pink, and White everything.
The front of the stores are filled with everything Valentine’s Day related. If you watch tv, with every commercial you’re reminded to get flowers, chocolates and jewelry for the ones you love.
If you think back, when did this all start?
I remember all the way back to elementary school. I would get so excited to get my Valentine’s day cards for my class that
It’s been ingrained in us since we were young, that on Valentine’s Day, we need to buy gifts to prove our love and affection.
When Brock and I started dating, it was February 9, 2013. On Valentine’s Day, we had our second date. It was still in that really awkward stage of dating where we had just gone on our first date, so we wanted to show that we kind of liked each other, but not enough to actually put the effort into buying a gift. We had our date in downtown Phoenix. When we met, he presented me with one red rose. This could be seen as a glimpse into a minimalistic future for us.
We’ve never really celebrated Valentine’s day. Probably because our anniversary is only five days before. Instead, we do dinner or he gets me my favorite things like mini bundt cakes or a loaf of french bread. These little things are to acknowledge the holiday, but not necessarily celebrate it. Brock always says, “Why do we need to buy each other gifts for this one day, when we do stuff for each other every day?”
So, why do we celebrate this holiday? Do we really need a day designated to show how much we love people? Do we need to spend money on items we don’t really need?
If you think about it, out of all of Valentine’s days you have celebrated, do you still have even 1/4th of the gifts you’ve received? I’m going to assume the answer is no. So where do all these things go?
If these gifts were given by the ones we love, why do we not have most of them anymore? Probably because we realize that we don’t need multiple teddy bears that say “I LOVE YOU” on it. We cherish it for a day, post pictures on social media about it, then usually forget about them.
I’m going to show you something. I had my sister and my best friend take pictures of the displays in the grocery stores they went to. This is what they sent.
The same day, I went to a grocery store here in Costa Rica and this is what I found.
I went to 2 different stores in 3 different towns and this was all I could find. The first store I went to had absolutely nothing. I almost forgot it was February because I didn’t have the huge displays in the entrance to remind me. When I finally did find these Valentine’s Day items, they were in a gift store. Notice how only half of the things they are selling are for the holiday.
How do the people here show their affection? How can they possibly prove their love, if they don’t have the option of buying 6-ft tall bears, heart-shaped candy boxes or dozens of roses?
It’s simple. They just TELL them. That seems like a crazy concept right?
They aren’t apart of a consumerist society, so they don’t buy as many unnecessary items. When I asked locals here if they celebrate they kind of shrugged and said, “I guess some people do, but it’s not something we really celebrate.”
American retailers try to convince you that you need to buy their products because it’s the only way to show your affection. Most of the items are going to be thrown out. Just because they were bought in the name of love means nothing if they are going to be additional waste in landfills.
Let’s be real…
If you’ve celebrated all of your life, the chances of changing now are pretty slim.
However, consider a different approach.
When you go into the store, simply buy less. Or instead of buying something that has a one time use, try an activity instead. Take the person you love to their favorite restaurant, take them to a movie or do something that can create unforgettable memories versus an unforgettable footprint on the environment.
Because when it comes down to it, holidays like Valentine’s day are all about consumption and revenue for retail companies. In the end, it’s just wasteful. One of the most wasteful things we do is buying and consuming things that you don’t really need.
Ask yourself, if there are that many specialty items in the US stores and hardly any in Costa Rica, is this a holiday that really has any significance for you, or is it a holiday created to rack up more revenue for retail companies to make more money?
So with Valentine’s day just around the corner, take a second to reevaluate why this holiday is “special” to you.