Valentine’s Day – is it a Hallmark holiday, a chance to score some paper Valentines and chocolate or a truly heartfelt day that gives couples the chance to show each other how much they care?
Perhaps it includes a bit of all of those, though according to Barbara Townsend, an instructor in Gannon University’s psychology department, Valentine’s Day means different things to people depending on where they are in their lives.
“It’s very subjective,” she said. “It’s whatever you want it to be. It’s going to be different to an 8-year-old girl and to someone in high school and to someone out into the life-span.”
However, she did say she thinks it will always remain a Hallmark holiday due to the nature of the retail industry.
“Hallmark is happy about it and the candy stores are of course overjoyed,” she said.
Almedina Alicusic, a graduate student in the English program, said she does not celebrate because of the commercial aspect as well as the predictability of the day. She said she prefers her boyfriend to do nice things for her when she is not expecting it.
“I’ll be working on my thesis,” she said. “It’s fine to do those things, but what about the other days of the year?”
Despite the hype surrounding the day, Townsend said it does come at a good time of year.
“It’s kind of post-Christmas and pre-spring,” she said. “It’s a fresh, happy day for a lot of people.”
Elizabeth Kons, director of Gannon’s writing center, said that the day has morphed into a family event at her house.
“Somehow my daughter gets stuff too,” she said. “Which is fine, as long as I don’t have to share my chocolate-covered strawberries.”
Kons and Townsend both noted the importance of Valentine’s Day for children who are still in elementary school. Though her sons are older, Townsend said she can still remember them coming home with stacks of paper Valentines. However, she said that because they are boys, it was not as exciting for them.
“They weren’t counting their Valentines,” she said. “It wasn’t like counting candy on Halloween.”
Kons said that her son, who still is at the paper-Valentines age, has already shown chivalrous tendencies this year.
“He got Spider-Man Valentines, but we had to get another kind because he wanted to make sure the girls in his class got pretty ones,” she said. “I think he’ll be OK for future Valentine’s Days.”
While a $2.99 box of paper Valentines may be enough to get through the holiday as a child, expenditures start to increase for college-aged students, many of whom choose to brave the throngs and take their dates out to dinner. Kons said she would deter people from going out because of the crowds.
“Don’t go out to dinner,” Kons said. “It’s amateur night at the restaurants.”
Townsend said that a good substitute for going out on such a busy evening is simply to cook a nice meal at home, something she said she plans to do this year. She said her table will be set with a rack of lamb and some type of risotto.
“I’m a good cook,” she said.
Cooking at home isn’t just something women can do for their men on Valentine’s Day, though the holiday itself may be geared toward females.
Ethan Keeler, a senior business finance and administration major, said he isn’t completely sold on the holiday.
“To be completely honest, I think it’s overrated,” he said.
However, he said he is still planning a nice evening with his girlfriend that involves him cooking her dinner.
Townsend acknowledged the fact that the holiday does usually mean more to females than to males.
“Let’s face it,” she said, “it’s a yin holiday.”
Chris DeVos, a senior sport and exercise science major, said he doesn’t see what makes the day so unique.
“Why should Valentine’s Day be different from any other day?” he said.
DeVos added that he plans to spend his evening at Plymouth Tavern for $1 and $2 imports.
Townsend said that even if some people don’t see as much value in the day as others, she doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with making it a special day for couples and close friends alike.
“It’s a dumb day in February,” she said. “What else would you be doing?”