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A Despicable Love Affair

February marks the month that Cupid mercilessly draws his bow.Anisha Adke If your mind went to Cupid’s arrow piercing the hearts of lovers every Feb. 14, you are wrong. Each year, he never fails to hit the hearts of businesses throughout America. Consumerism and holidays have become inseparable, a mutually beneficial love affair.

Holidays fuel consumerism and consumerism fuels holidays. They fall more and more in love every year.

Black Friday steps on the Thanksgiving feast’s toes, the enticing sales revolving around President’s Day force any thought of George Washington out of our minds, obligatory Valentine’s Day roses and chocolates sweeten the darker story that lies behind that holiday — and don’t even get me started on Christmas. Crass consumerism has tainted every holiday.

In 2013, it was estimated that a whopping $18.6 billion was spent on Valentine’s Day, an increase from $17.6 billion the year before. That’s enough to buy 2,189 islands in the Caribbean (Where did I get this from? Where else? privateislandsonline.com). Some 8 billion conversation hearts were produced in 2013. That’s enough processed sugar to stretch from Rome to Valentine, Ariz., and back again, 20 times. And those things don’t even taste good!

Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be such a problem if it weren’t about the treacly stuff that your significant other might have gotten for you. I’m all for showering one another with love. However, it turns out that participating in Valentine’s Day has become more and more of a norm, something that is expected of you.

About 3 percent of people give cards to their pets (this seems like a small percentage, but 3 percent of the United State’s 2012 population of 313.9 million is more than 9.4 million people buying gifts for animals who probably aren’t concerned about this, or any other, holiday). In 2011, 15 percent of women sent themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day. Clearly, the pressures of, “What are you doing this Valentine’s Day?” have been too much for some to handle.

I don’t mean to bum people out by talking about this wretched consumerist holiday six days after it has passed. This past Monday was President’s Day, a notable holiday that may have passed unnoticed in a flurry of sales. When I began researching President’s Day to write this column, naturally I began at Wikipedia. Under the “Observance and traditions” section, Wikipedia began: “Today, the February holiday has become well known for being a day in which many stores, especially car dealers, hold sales.” My mind bubbled over with anger. How could Wikipedia begin the page on President’s Day with such an insensitive tribute to George Washington?

But then I read on: “Until the late 1980s, corporate businesses generally closed on this day, similar to present corporate practices on Memorial Day or Christmas Day. With the late 1980s advertising push to rename the holiday (from George Washington's Day to President's Day), more and more businesses are staying open on the holiday each year … when reviewing the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill debate of 1968 in the Congressional Record, one notes that supporters of the bill were intent on moving federal holidays to Mondays to promote business.”

So this is the reason President’s Day falls on the third Monday of February, which always falls between Feb. 15 and Feb. 21. George Washington’s birthday is on Feb. 22! I cannot speak for General Washington, but I can’t believe that he would appreciate his holiday being bumped off his birthday for the benefit of business.

On Saturday, Washington’s true birthday, consider forgetting about buying stuff. Fight the system — sing “Happy Birthday” to him and pay your respects to our presidents. They do, after all, have the worst job in the country. Say, “Thanks, Obama,” without being sarcastic.

Together, we can transform the love affair between holidays and consumerism into a taboo. Together, we can make their consumeristic love affair a Romeo and Juliet tale of self-destruction.

Anisha Adke is a senior at Lakeridge High School, and she writes a monthly column for the Review. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .




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