With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many people are scurrying to make last minute reservations, or to buy roses, cards, and teddy bears.  But have you really considered why you celebrate this holiday? It seems as if most people don’t, let alone understanding where it originated.

Like All Saints Day (Halloween), Christmas, Easter, and Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day was originally a pagan holiday that Christianity preempted, to dominate and convert the populace.

Valentine’s genesis began with the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia that was celebrated on February 15th.  It was Pope Gelasius who changed this pagan festival around 496 A.D and made it St. Valentine’s Day on February 14th.

Most of its origins are confounded with myths and legends, but most scholars would agree that it derived from the priest St. Valentine, who aroused condemnation in 270 A.D from Claudius II.   However, the rest remains a mystery; after all, it is not even known as to which St. Valentine got a day named for him, since there were at least three Christian saints by that name.

Legend has it that Claudius II forbade marriage for young men because being single made for better soldiers. It was then that St. Valentine performed secret marriages, but was eventually caught and put to death.

What is interesting is that St. Valentine was never connected with love or romance; it was not until the 14th century when Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a love poem that included St Valentine in it, that the holiday took on a more romantic persona.  The holiday’s metamorphosis continued in the 19th century when Valentines cards were produced on a mass scale.

Valentine’s Day is used by corporate America to reap in benefits at your expense.  It’s used to spike up prices on roses, dining, chocolates, and teddy bears. It’s a ridiculous notion to celebrate love one day of the year.

We should show our appreciation, gratitude, and love every single day of our lives.

Now, love has gone astray and has been replaced with money; what jewelry to buy, which chic restaurant to dine in, and what special Valentine’s Day event should be celebrated.

Its consumerism knows no bounds.  The roses that are quintessential to the holiday are produced in horrid conditions.  Enslaved and oppressed workers are the ones who picked the roses that you plan on giving your loved one.

Florists, such as 1-800-Flowers, have sweatshop-like practices; forcing flower workers to work 8-12 hour days for less than a dollar, operating in chemical-infested areas, and worst of all, ignoring other human rights atrocities such as the women workers getting sexually abused.

Next time you go to work, envision your boss abusing you; placing his hands on you, running chills down your spine, inciting your goose bumps to rise, making you feel helpless, attacking your very spirit, tormenting your soul, and affecting the rest of your life.  And imagine that you can’t complain because you would lose your job and put your family at risk of starvation.

It is tragic how roses are a symbol of love and yet really illustrate the opposite. It is now associated with the toil, suffering, and deprivation of exploited workers.  It seems as if Cupid’s arrows actually do pierce and cause pain.

Buying roses continues the demoralization of these children, women, and men who are trying to survive in a world that is truly still so backwards.

But it is easier for us to demand justice than the flower workers themselves, because they are usually subjugated by their employers and disempowered.

As consumers we have the power in our hands.  When you buy roses, go to your local farmers market, or ask for Fair Trade roses, spend a little more money to alleviate the suffering of your fellow human beings.

The human condition can be so remarkable, don’t allow yourself to think that you can’t make a change here at home.  50,000 Change.org members sent letters to 1-800-Flowers, and now the company has agreed to change its practices and offer Fair Trade roses.

If you really want to show your love on this holiday then do it by becoming a conscious consumer.  Transform that apathy to empathy, wash your hands clean from the sweat, blood, and agony of the flower workers.  Let’s help them remove the stains of anguish.  This truly would make a meaningful gift for Valentine’s Day!

Roses are red

From the blood of a flower picker

Sweatshop practices not only occur with thread

System is sick and sicker.

Want to express sincere love?

Buy fair trade flowers.

Instead of

Roses manufactured in pain, rape, and infinite hours.

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9 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day is No Bed of Roses!

    • happy valentine’s day! i rebmmeer fondly making valentines with you when we lived in philly. my sister and my nephews still have their’s up on the fridge. want to have a belated cookie-making party at my house sometime soon?

  1. Very well done. And it’s not just the flower workers that are suffering at our expense. In Africa, debilitating wars and mutilations are perpetuated by an underground diamond-smuggling industry. There has been a lot of regulation of the diamond industry, but it doesn’t stop the smuggling, or the conflicts. Before anyone buys diamond jewelry for their loved ones, they should ask whether the diamond is certified to be conflict-free. If the seller doesn’t know, then go somewhere that does, or demand that they find out where their diamonds come from. The diamond trade has even been shown to fund terrorist organizations, so buying your sweetheart a diamond necklace or diamond earrings on Valentine’s Day could be funding war or terrorism. Oh, and that goes for gold, too. (http://www.brilliantearth.com/jewelry-issues/)
    And what about chocolate? That heart-shaped box of treats you buy your girlfriend will likely contain cocoa that has been harvested by child slaves. Yes, slaves. By buying chocolate, many consumers are supporting the modern African slave trade in Cote d’Ivoire. Before buying chocolates, make sure that the cocoa in those chocolates is certified fair-trade cocoa. (http://www1.american.edu/ted/chocolate-slave.htm)

    • Well said Andrea. That is the sad aspect of the monetary we live in. It is apparent from the very technology we are using now to read and write this. Most of our technology is made from slave labor. I focused only on this one because of VDAY coming around the corner. But I will surely tackle the other ones you mentioned in the future.

      • You are definitely right about the monetary system we live in, and the fact that it perpetuates these horrors. I figured that you would be aware of the atrocities I described, but some of your readers may not, so I just wanted to expand on what you were saying because many people also buy jewelry and chocolates for the holiday.

  2. gino I hate it when your right but your right that this is another corporate holiday thats aim mostly at women so they could feel special, though they already are, but the need to be materialistic special. Now if your a guy and you forget to buy your love one a gift then your looked like an asshole. So as man hes forced to buy into this BS day

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