Cultural Interpretations of Valentine’s Day

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Cupid and Psyche: A Western romance myth. Image by catherine592

Cupid and Psyche: A Western romance myth. Image by catherine592

In fact, in 2012 the National Retail Federation reported “the average person celebrating the holiday will shell out $126.03, up 8.5 percent over last year’s $116.21 and the highest in the survey’s 10-year history. Total spending is expected to reach $17.6 billion.” Estimates for 2013 Valentine’s Day spending are high as well – despite the economic downturn.

Non-Western Opposition to St. Valentine’s Day

Some nations see Valentine’s Day as an affront to their traditions.  Janice Prince Innis states, “some Hindus and Muslims in Eastern countries—many of which continue to have arranged marriages, in which prospective partner opinions may or may not be taken into account—have been fiercely opposed to celebrating Valentine’s Day. With its emphasis on romantic love and passion, the celebration is perceived as a Christian/Western affront to Eastern values.” 

Valentine’s Day: Romance or Waste of Money?

While noting the “festival” is growing in popularity worldwide, St. Valentine’s Day website notes, “Several societies are very much against the festival as they feel it is the ploy by multinationals to impose western cultures on conservative eastern world.”

Indeed, the question is – is it the romantic love, or the perceived waste of money that is more offensive to the non-Westerners?

Resources:

Williman, M., 10 Valentines Day Traditions Around the World. (2013)Viator Travel Blog.  Accessed February 7, 2013.

National Retail Federation. Americans to Pull Out All the Stops This Valentine’s Day. (2012) Accessed February 7, 2013.

The Grumpy Sociologist. Happy Valentines Day! (2011). Accessed February 7, 2013.

Innis, J. P., Valentine’s Day: Barrier or Conduit to Romance? (2008). Sociological Images. Accessed February 7, 2013.

Sharp, G. Celebrating Valentine’s Day in Japan. (2010). Sociological Images. Accessed February 7, 2013.

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