Sunday, February 15, 2015

Will you be my valentine?

Published in Free (The Nation) on February 15

Pic by Chandana Wijesinghe (

Love For Sale

In January, the price of a single rose was 100 rupees. As soon as February took over, the price of these same roses doubled. Some storekeepers were apologetic, “it’s the season,” they explained. And that was enough explanation; we all knew which season he was referring to.

If you flip through a newspaper published in February, you will be blinded by all the bright reds and the many offers on hotel reservations, gift items and jewelry. Nearly everything has been turned into a Valentine’s Day version. If we could buy tissue boxes with leaves or watermelon slices on the box a month ago, this month you could purchase a box with hearts or roses. Last month, phone cases were black or brown, this month they are red or pink. Pencils were yellow, black or red before, but now they have heart-shaped erasers. Cakes are red, pink and white, filled with strawberries and roses.

Think of a very unromantic situation. For instance, adventure programs like water sports or hiking. What’s romantic about spending all day cursing the hot sun while building a raft to get across a muddy river? Well, programs of this sort have also been included in Valentine’s Day deals and you can now prove your love by taking your significant other on an adventure they will not be expecting.

Once a year, love is put on sale and Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to increase prices on anything that is in anyway related to gift-giving. There is of course, nothing wrong with this. People have already put Vesak, Christmas, Easter, mothers’ day, fathers’ day, teachers’ day, children’s day etc on the market, so it’s not surprising that love is on the list of commercialized celebrations or commemorations.

However, the question here is if Valentine’s Day is affordable anymore. While no one is forced to celebrate Valentine’s Day or give in to consumerism, there could be certain expectations from ones partner. You may not believe in Valentine’s Day, but you may still have to participate. If you are willingly paying high prices, the price tag on Valentine’s Day may not affect you, but if you are not willing to pay the price, you may realize just how expensive love can be.

Is love worth it? May be, but that depends on the people involved and their definition of love. Is it necessary? Again, it depends on the individual, and how they define love. However, regardless of the meaning and purpose of Valentine’s Day, there is no denying that it is an expensive celebration and that the price tag on love is quite high.