Giving the many gifts of love
It should be no surprise that Valentine’s Day, like many other holidays, is marketed to consumers as a time to shower loved ones with gifts. Some stores put out decorations, candies, and other knick-knacks for people to purchase leading up to the holiday.
However, senior Anna Kalfayan said the meaning of Valentine’s Day is to show actions of love to the people you care about — not to buy items.
“I don’t think a boyfriend (or a girlfriend) has to gift their significant other with a gift on Valentine’s Day,” Kalfayan said. “In fact, I personally think a handwritten card would mean a lot more than a box of chocolates or flowers. There are many other days of the year where a gift is appropriate, but I don’t think it’s necessary on Valentine’s Day.”
Kalfayan noted that there are some unwritten rules that accompany gift-giving when it comes to this romantic holiday.
“People think that you can only give gifts to those who are romantically involved,” Kalfayan said. “If you have a good friend that is the opposite gender, then you shouldn’t feel weird about giving them something. Something like chocolate or candy would be an appropriate gift, as opposed to jewelry, which has more sentimental value.”
Sophomore Nicholas Cohn also noted that most holidays have become subject to commodification and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Signature gifts for the holiday can include overpriced flowers, excessive amounts of chocolate, and expensive jewelry.
“While companies can use the holiday as an excuse for profit, it is up to individuals to decide whether or not they will participate in the profit-making or in something potentially more meaningful,” Cohn said. “To confront that commodification, you have to ask yourself whether the best way you can express love is through material goods or through other forms of intimacy. Sometimes meaningful acts take money. Nevertheless, the money does not have to determine the meaning.”
According to Cohn, what constitutes a good gift should rely more on the creative aspect rather than on the monetary value.
“A really good gift is not an object, but an experience,” Cohn said. “If you love the person, you love being with them. A box of chocolate is not always the best way to show that. Don’t buy something; do something together.”
Valentine’s Day can be perceived as a holiday limited to romantically involved couples. But Cohn believes that the holiday should be expanded to include all relationships — familial, non-romantic, and romantic.
“Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity for romantic gestures, but also for gestures of kindness and friendship,” Cohn said. “Everyone should celebrate Valentine’s Day. Just have fun. It’s about love, and even if you’re not in a relationship, we all love someone, we all appreciate someone, and we should all take the time to express that, even if in just some small way.”
Additionally, Cohn believes the ritual of giving gifts should be expanded to those non-romantic kinds of relationships as well.
“A good gift should express some aspect of the friendship, a symbol of appreciation for the other,” Cohn said. “As long as the friends really know each other, a Valentine’s gift shouldn’t really be all that strange.”
Sophomore Sofia Sanchez is in agreement with Cohn:Valentine’s Day gifts should steer away from the material nature.
“I think there is more to showing a person you care than giving them a gift,” Sanchez said. “Even just saying ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ to someone can be a nice act that doesn’t involve spending money.”
This year, Sanchez will spend Valentine’s Day with her friends enjoying good food and the company while exchanging personally made gifts with one another.
“We wanted to give each other gifts, because who doesn’t love receiving a gift on Valentine’s Day,” Sanchez said. “I will probably make funny cards for each of my friends with a nice note and maybe some homemade cookies. It will save me a ton of money and there’s just something about receiving a gift that someone took the time and effort to make.”
Regardless whether a Torero is romantically involved, Valentine’s Day gives everyone the opportunity to celebrate those they care care about. This could mean taking the time to reach out to loved ones with a caring message or simply smiling at fellow Toreros on campus. Valentine’s Day doesn’t always have to mean making purchases that result in being in debt.