Has the love season been commercialised?

22 Feb, 2020 - 00:02 0 Views
Has the love season been commercialised? Bulawayo residents shop for Valentine’s Day gifts recently

The Chronicle

Andile Tshuma

I GREW up believing in the saying that “Love don’t cost a thing”.

I’m not sure if it’s entirely true though, now that I’m older. Love can cost you friends, opportunities, family, choices. It can cost a lot. However, what I’m most interested in today is whether or not love should break the bank?

Zimbabweans last week joined the world in commemorating Valentine’s Day with florists and gift shops recording brisk business. However, the commemorations were received with mixed reactions with some people arguing that the day had been commercialised.

The whole of last week, we saw people going to town and back about what gift to buy for loved ones on Valentine’s Day. Lovers painted the town red shopping flowers, teddy bears, chocolates, socks, wallets, belts all sorts of things in preparation for Red Friday. 

It’s good to exchange gifts as a way of expressing love.

But are we not putting too much emphasis on buying and not on the love part? Around February, businesses capitalise on this time with all sorts of Valentines’ promotions. 

At this popular supermarket along Fife Street, I saw a Valentine’s Day special for detergents. I was asking myself what detergents have to do with Valentine’s Day. 

That’s when I realised that this day has been commercialised. It’s no longer about the gestures, its about spending. I mean what do those things have to do with love anyway.

Online stores, supermarkets, gift shops, hotels, travel companies and utility businesses invent enticing packages that push consumers to dig deeper into their wallets.

With love in the air, resisting the bait is hard. And herein lies the pitfall: consumers often stretch their budget to accommodate romantic delights, even worse, spending money they don’t have at all.

While it’s the season to celebrate love, capitalism has permeated the Valentine’s Day tradition, and is now somewhat epitomised by lavishness.

This explains why people with huge outlays sometimes make bizarrely grand romantic gestures in the name of love.

Even for those people with not so deep pockets, the temptation to outdo themselves for Valentine’s Day is high. The season’s promotions don’t help matters either.

Since the beginning of this month, a number of local hotels and restaurants have been offering three course meals, a candlelit dinner, jazz music, with a ‘‘complimentary’’ bottle of wine and roses.

Have you ever considered the fact that while the wine is labelled ‘‘complimentary’’, its cost is already included in your bill? Usually at a higher rate than it is ordinarily sold for?

Even airlines have joined the fray, giving travellers ‘‘unique’’ travel experiences.

Given that Valentine’s Day is a creation of the sentimental Victorian era and based on the flimsiest of traditions, rooted in an obscure reference to an early martyr who had no known interest in love or romance, it is surprising that the spending during this holiday can only come second to Christmas, even the Easter Holidays may not come close. 

As others were in a rush to shop for gifts, others were not bothered about Valentine’s Day but instead queried the day’s existence.

Who is Saint Valentine? My understanding is that he was a promiscuous individual so why should we celebrate him? This was the response I got from a friend after asking what they had been up to during the weekend after Valentine’s Day.

But it got me thinking, do people really know the history of the holiday? I’m not saying people must not celebrate their love, but should it be about this day?

I personally would prefer to ignore this day that is now a gimmick used by shop owners to milk people dry of their money and boost their sales. Why not show your love any other time?

An internet search result reveals that Valentine’s is a pagan festival that started in Rome. It was popular and it was called the feast of Lupercalia where women would run naked in the streets. Valentine’s had no biblical links or Christian background despite being a commemoration of Saint Valentine’s death. 

This boggles my mind, do people really know some of the traditions and rituals originally associated with this day or are we just following the wind? There are multiple interpretations on the history of the tradition.

However, it may not matter much to most people, but is the spending and pressure exerted to go all out and spend really necessary?

During the week leading to Valentine’s, there was the car challenge, so couples approached this year’s Valentine’s Day already under pressure to impress. But does it really matter, is it about how much you spend or how much you love? I saw an interesting advert that said a typical Valentine’s dinner is worth 100 building blocks, so would a couple choose to dine or build. I think it was a clever one, its time people got their priorities right, well unless you have finished building and have all the money lying around you don’t even know what to do with it, then by all means, spend it. 

What’s your take, Should Valentine’s Day be trashed or does it still have a place in modern society?

– Share your thoughts on @[email protected] , WhatsApp +263778502449 or @andile_tshuma on Twitter. 

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