It’s funny. Today is the first Valentine’s Day in a long while where I’ve seen about ten friends of mine declare on social media that they don’t like the idea of this day. Some of them used “#HallmarkDay” to punctuate their disapproval. It’s not uncommon for people to call some holidays as “Hallmark Holidays” as a way of saying that the holiday is worthless, and that it was only created so that Hallmark (or any other corporation that caters to people giving things to other people on the holidays) can sell things to the masses. In essence, it’s a conspiracy.
I’ve always been very interested in the mind that sees a conspiracy in things that are only slightly associated. I think that’s why I became an epidemiologist. Associations between things don’t always mean that they are related, or that one causes the other. That’s the big one. I absolutely hate it when people — especially people who should know better — see that two things are related and then swear to God that one caused the other. If they say this graph, they would believe that organic food causes autism.
Of course, you know me and vaccine conspiracy theories.
Is there anything to the whole “Hallmark Holiday” conspiracy? I’m inclined to believe that there isn’t because I remember it being celebrated when I was a kid back in Mexico. Greeting cards were not a “thing” back in Mexico. Maybe guys gave candy to girls, but that wasn’t a big thing, either. And “Valentine’s Day” was more known as a day of “love and friendship” than just love.
If you look at the history of Valentine’s Day (even on Wikipedia), you’ll know that Hallmark couldn’t have possibly gone back to the late 1700’s in England and sold people the paper Valentine’s that started off the whole thing about giving cards. On the other hand, if you look at the amount of money that exchanges hands on this day, maybe you can make the argument that it is too commercialized. But that can be said of anything else that we all share together. The Superbowl is “Chips, Pizza, and Beer Day” if we’re going to play that game. Christmas is “Toy Day”. The Fourth of July is “Kinsford Charcoal Day”.
Only cynics look at days that cultures share together and think it’s only because someone is making money that we celebrate them… In my opinion, anyway. (Yes, that is the definition of cynicism.) It’s hard to go up to friends of mine and ask them if they’re cynics. But their statements about today are cynical.
What’s Cinco de Mayo, by the way? “Mexican Independence Day”?
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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