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Valentine’s Day 2014

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”?

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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.
About History of Vaccines: I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Please read the About page on the site for more information.
About Epidemiological: I am the sole contributor to Epidemiological, my personal blog to discuss all sorts of issues. It also has an About page you should check out.

2 replies

  1. I’ll admit to be cynical, it’s a hard earned viewpoint, based upon some rather unpleasant experiences and knowledge not commonly available (as I refuse to divulge things covered under my NDA and have to live in Russia).

    I’m a pessimist as well, though I do find it pleasant and refreshing on the rare occasion that I am wrong.

    Now, is any holiday a Hallmark holiday?
    Not really. As you said, Hallmark would require a time machine to accomplish that.
    Are many, indeed, most of our holidays heavily commercialized? Yes.
    Indeed, I remember hearing of discussions from when my parents grew up over the commercialization of Christmas, where in their youths, such commercialization was absent (of course, there was a Great Depression going on at that time, then a “Great War”).
    Much of the rampant commercialization did start before the Great Depression, where Santa Claus suddenly changed from being an emaciated giver of shoes to the fat gent who gives toys, with requests being made in department stores.

    Is that some Grand Conspiracy of the Space Aliens?
    Of course not! It’s simply business doing what business does, drawing in customers and ensuring their revenue stream.
    Frankly, the only time I’d have a problem with that is based upon income, where the poor overspend, to the detriment of their family wellbeing, rather than spending wisely.
    After all, at the end of the day, it should be disposable income going out, to the mutual enjoyment of the gifting and gifted.

    As for our home, our children are grown and have their own lives.
    In their youth, we enjoyed Christmas and Easter the most, all in a secular way. With presents at Christmas, family gatherings, fine meals, the same during Easter, with the addition of an Easter Egg hunt.
    Valentine’s day was just another day for us.
    But then, our honeymoon entered its 32nd year last December. 🙂


    1. 32 years?! That’s a lifetime. Hooray for you.

      Yeah, I forgot to write that it’s all business, and that we have these things because we’re not communist Cuba. (Though I have the sneaking suspicion that market forces are also at work there.) But to be completely cynical and poo-poo anything I do for my wife because that makes me a “slave to the Hallmark industrial complex”… That’s nuts.


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