Petzold: The love languages of capitalism


Courtesy of Laura Ockel on Unsplash

Valentine’s Day is the day for love. Even if that love is observed through tabloids. 

Megan Petzold, Columnist

Since we all were little, we’ve been told and shown by our peers, adults, parents and family that Valentine’s Day is a day to acknowledge your appreciation, friendship and love for the people in our lives.

Learning by example, society tells us the best way to do Valentine’s Day is by showing our love and friendship through gifts.  

When did this beautiful Roman tradition become one based solely around capitalism and the corresponding value that wealth equals gifts equals love? 

To begin, one possibility of Valentine’s Day origin is described on

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome,” according to “When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.”

The story I learned in elementary school on Valentine’s Day’s origin is much more romantic, much more Romeo and Juliette-esque, most closely relating to the excerpt from 

The next quote may be a more realistic version of what really happened. 

Other stories behind this day are based on a person named Valentine. Some people believe that the day is named after St. Valentine of Terni, who was a Bishop,” Entertainment Times states. “While another story is that Valentine’s Day got its name from the priest Valentine. He once sent a letter to his jailer’s daughter whom he had befriended and signed the letter as ‘from your Valentine’. He was martyred at around the 270 CE by emperor Claudius II Gothicus.” 

Though we may never know the true origin of Valentine’s Day, we do know that it has become a beloved tradition all around the world. 

Marketing firms and companies are completely relying on the fact that people have come to believe that material things equate to love. The more things, or the more expensive things, presented to one another on Valentine’s Day, the more love one has for the other, the better prospect that person is for the other. 

It has become such an ordeal that there is a whole set of deeds needed to be reenacted on the week before valentine’s day. “The various days of Valentine’s week are – Rose Day (February 7), followed by Propose Day (February 8), Chocolate Day (February 9), Teddy Day (February 10), Promise Day (February 11), Hug Day (February 12), Kiss Day (February 13) and finally Valentine’s Day on February 14,” shares Entertainment Times

It seems like every year there is an opportunity to outdo the last year, but when is it just too much? 

I could go on a rant about how buying something for your person doesn’t always show how much love you have for them. 

I could go on a rant about how, depending on their main love language, other things and possibly monetarily free things would mean more to them than something you were persuaded to buy. 

Simply put, just because you bought your girlfriend of two years a candle doesn’t mean she’ll stay with you forever. Believe it or not, mass-produced candles do not often contain that kind of incantation. 

I sincerely do not believe Pope Gelasius, St. Valentine of Terni, or any of the other possibly Valentine men out there did not intend for this day to be a mass-produced, capitalist holiday. 

I, for one, think it’s finally time to break the cycle! 

No more not-so-subtle suggestions that one’s products will fulfill a woman’s every need, no more blast emails or text messages daily for the month prior to Valentine’s Day, and no more hints in slogans that trigger our lizard brains into thinking we need this product to find or keep our love.