The Valentine’s Market – How the gift market flourishes on V-Day

By Akshita Malhotra in Fashion & Lifestyle 14/02/2017

When it comes to love, can it be exclusively brought on Valentine‘s day and if yes, are expensive gifts suffice to shout love? Akshita Malhotra traces the roots of ‘Business of Love’. Read on.

 

“Every Valentine’s Day our campus newspaper has a section for student messages. Last year my roommate surprised his girlfriend with roses and dinner at a fancy restaurant. When they returned from their date, she leafed through the paper to see if he had written a note to her. Near the bottom of one page she found: ‘Bonnie—What are you looking here for? Aren’t dinner and flowers enough? Love, Scott.’ ”

— Richard B. Blackwell

 

Valentine’s Day seconds Christmas when it comes to expressing love by sending out cards. However, today’s valentine’s day isn’t even nearly close to its origins. It seems to have emerged more popular with a lot of remodeling on the part of major private entities and advertising  groups. What we witness around Valentine’s day today is the concocted form of the pagan festival Lupercalia celebrating the erotic form of love to ensure fertility in Rome. Valentine’s galore continued when St Valentine earned the disfavour of Claudius II for secretly performing marriage rituals to glorify and sanctify Christian marriage finally getting beheaded on 14 February after being in jail and coining the famous term “from your valentine” which still goes around. Subsequently, an obscure poem by Chaucer associated both events.

 
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Uptil 1850s hand made cards and gifts had become popular in England. Queen of Hearts Esther Howland was charmed by Valentine’s day but being a true businesswoman she couldn’t overlook the possibility of seizing the true potential of the same.

 

She is known to first commercialise valentine’s day by making cheap handmade cards affordable and accessible to all.

 

Sales grew and business boomed, much akin to the story of popularization of Valentine’s day by Archies cards after the economic liberalization in India.

 

Eventually box of chocolate, flowers, an evening out, clothing and even gift cards followed. Amusingly it was not the tendency to treat one’s partner that led to this fetishism. While analyzing the popular Mira’s poems to demonstrate her love for Krishna “Virah” the concept of waiting and hence delayed gratification was extensively bought out. However, in this gross built world it is improbable to find it under reach.

 

Pseudo consciousness or a false ideology of love is created here where materialism replaces memories.

 

Seeking the instant gratification ideology companies and advertisers display how exchanging chocolates can be a sign of care, cards an antidote for distanced relationships and diamonds to replace and compensate for the lack of gestures and neglect over years. The basic formula for an effective advertisement seems to be an exploitative means to psychologically induce the need for such materials in order to authenticate our love.

 
money-and-love
 

Tracing our steps back to the idea of valentine’s concept of love which was not the expression of gushing love but the continuance of love when it was not so gushing anymore. So really what are we celebrating, the sacrifices of St Valentine for his belief of deep, drawn out and enduring relationships or the commercially trending idea of love and the success of marketplace experts drawing it on in our minds? Maybe we have to embrace the uncomfortable idea that the expression of love can sometimes take years and decades than mere snippets of gift exchanging. That maybe efforts for love would have to be continuous rather than sporadic and sometimes one day is not enough we may want it to continue all of our lives in bits and pieces.

 

Akshita Malhotra
An enthusiast writer and an aspiring journalist who believes in the power of storytelling. A goal digger and a knack with words. If nothing else she loves to devour books and find places that could numb her mind.

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