On paper, Valentine’s Day seems wonderful; a whole twenty-four hours dedicated to celebrating love. In reality though, the day itself can turn out to be not so sweet. I believe that Valentine’s Day has lost some of its original meaning and has become a holiday that revolves around spending money in order to prove your love, not celebrate it.
I’m not alone in this view. Megan Davey, a first-year Zoology student, agrees, “I think the idea of it is nice, although I do think it is commercialised and unnecessary”. She adds, “I don’t like making a massive deal out of it anyway”.
But for those students who are, just how much is Valentine’s day costing them?
In 2013, OnePoll predicted that £978 million would be spent on Valentine’s gifts in Britain alone, a 10 percent rise from last year. This might be good news for the economy, but it does reflect the materialistic mindset now imprinted on Valentine’s Day. Add in the factor that students are, in what the NUS is calling a ‘student living crisis’ (with ‘the average student experiencing a funding shortfall of over £7600 a year’), it does raise the question as to whether students can actually afford to indulge in the material luxuries of Valentines Day.
“£978 million would be spent on Valentine’s gifts in Britain”.
“This year we aren’t buying presents, mainly because it’s so expensive, but we’re still buying cards”, says second year Medical student Siobhian Moores. Siobhian and her partner are one of many student couples forgoing gifting due to the cost of student living, and this is not surprising given that in 2013 the average spending by a woman on Valentine’s gifts was £22.64, with £39.57 being the average for men.
With rent, bills, food, textbooks, travel and various other costs, buying a dozen red roses is a luxury for most students, yet the commercial nature of the day makes such conventions hard to ignore, adding unnecessary pressure.
“With the rising cost of student living, is it really necessary to splurge?”
‘Buy this for your special someone’ and ‘this will let them know how you feel’ are messages that we are bombarded with, almost as soon as Christmas ends and the new year begins. This culture we are immersed in is very persuasive and sets up expectations, making it feel compulsory to shower your other-half with gifts – even if it is not affordable.
I’m not completely against giving and receiving gifts on Valentine’s day, so long as the person can afford it, but with the rising cost of student living, is it really necessary to splurge? Not at all. After all, last time I checked love (at least not the kind paid for by the hour) didn’t have a price tag.
Happy Valentine’s Day!