What Would American Companies Do Without Hallmark Holidays?

by Ryan Guina

Yesterday was Valentines Day which is one of the biggest days of the year for companies that sell flowers, chocolates, greeting cards, and jewelry. (Mother’s Day actually outranks Valentines Day in many of these categories). But what would happen to these companies if Valentines Day or other holidays weren’t so commercialized? Would they miss their earning estimates? Would they create a new holiday just to make sales forecasts?

The Commercialization of Holidays

I’m not a big fan of the commercialization surrounding most holidays. I believe in the intent of the holidays – you can never go wrong setting aside a day to honor and commemorate people you love, respect, and admire. This goes for days such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and more. But just because you honor and respect someone doesn’t mean you should have to spend a lot of money to “show” them you care.

The Commercialization of Valentine’s Day. Saint Valentine’s Day has a longer history than most holidays, going back over 1500 years. What originally began as a religious holiday has, like so many other religious holidays, been converted into a commercial holiday. The original intent of celebrating love and affection has changed into an occasion obligation for giving gifts. Wikipedia has an interesting history of Modern Valentine’s Day. I find it interesting that Valentine’s Day cards have been around for a couple hundred years, but it wasn’t until the 1980’s that the diamond industry started promoting Valentine’s Day as an occasion for giving jewelry as gifts. It took less than 30 years for the idea of giving jewelry to become synonymous with Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t need to be expensive. My wife and I celebrate Valentine’s Day very casually. We exchange cards (I buy her one even though she tells me not to!), and we often celebrate by going out to eat – either the day before or the day after. We do this mostly to avoid the crowds. For us, the idea of Valentine’s Day is more important than giving gifts or celebrating a event on someone else’s terms.

Fun fact. Did you know that Valentine’s Day has an October counterpart? Sweetest Day is celebrated in the Great Lakes region of the US in October.

The commercialization of Mother’s Day disappointed the Founder of Mother’s Day. Anna Jarvis founded Mother’s Day in 1908. Her goal was to make it a “day of rest” for mothers. Unfortunately, within a few years it morphed into a commercial holiday which discouraged and disappointed her. You can read more about the commercialization of Mother’s Day here, or listen at National Public Radio.

The commercialization of Christmas. This is perhaps the biggest commercial holiday of them all – even people who don’t celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas often celebrate the commercialism of Christmas. I give and receive gifts at Christmas, but I try to focus on the meaning of the season instead of just giving gifts.

It’s hard to ignore the commercialization, but I try

In general, I’m not a fan of the mass commercialization of holidays in the US. This past year, for example I saw Christmas decorations in the stores at the end of September – they were right next to the Halloween decorations. As soon as the Christmas decorations came down, they were replaced by Valentine’s Day cards and displays. And as soon as those come down in a day or two, they will be replaced by Easter displays, followed by Mother’s Day cards, which will be replaced with Father’s Day displays, which will promptly be removed for 4th of July displays. It seems like most stores have a permanent aisle set aside for holiday displays. It’s something I’ve come to expect and for the most part, ignore.

What do you think of the commercialization of holidays?

Published or updated March 20, 2014.
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 krantcents

I don’t like it! Like many things that bother me, I can turn it off or ignore it. I can control myself, I can not control society, companies or other people. I tend to celebrate Valentine’s Day the same way! I bring dinner in, get inexpensive flowers and have a romantic candlelight dinner at home.


2 Ryan

That’s my theory. I can only control my actions, so we celebrate our own way – which isn’t commercial by any means! I’m just happy my wife feels the same way and doesn’t want or expect expensive gifts!


3 Craig

Know what the shame of Valentine’s Day is? It doesn’t have the sales like Christmas does! In fact, things cost more! Though you can get a great deal on candy the next day.

It really is crazy the way some stores cycle through the holidays long before they arrive.


4 John Hunter

The commercialization of holidays is lame and bad for many people’s finances. The attempts to commercialize romance is even lamer. If you have to be told by advertisers to express your love that is sad. If you expect your partner to express their love on the day marketers have told you too that is sad.


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