Is Valentine’s Day a ‘proper’ special occasion, or is it too commercialised?

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
February 13, 2023, 12:00 AM GMT+0

Across the world, people have a cynical view of the celebration

Valentine’s Day is a time to show your other half how much you care about them, but do people feel driven to do so out of the love in their heart, or because they are being bombarded by companies telling them to express their affection through the medium of buying things?

A new YouGov International Omnibus survey in 18 countries and territories shows that Valentine’s Day is seen cynically in each one. We asked more than 19,000 people whether they thought Valentine’s Day is celebrated more because it is a ‘proper’ special occasion, or if it was an occasion that people wouldn’t celebrate if it weren’t for pressure from commercial entities like greetings card companies.

The online Chinese population are the most likely to see Valentine’s Day as being celebrated on its own terms, at 41%. However, just as many (45%) believe that it is celebrated more due to commercial pressure.

Danes are the least likely to see Valentine’s Day as a ‘proper’ special occasion, at just 5%. Fully 82% of Dane see it more as a commercialised event, a figure matched in Britain and topped in Spain (85%). In the Western countries surveyed, no more than 27% of people say they think the lovers’ day is observed for ‘real’ reasons.

Men and women share the same scepticism for the celebration the world over. In all countries and territories, men and women are about as likely as one another to say that Valentine’s Day is celebrated more because of commercial pressure.

While younger people tend to be somewhat less hostile to Valentine’s Day than older people, the overall picture is still one of heavy scepticism across the generations. The biggest exception is China, where young people are divided: 18-34 year olds are split 45% / 45% on whether the romantic event is celebrated for legitimate reasons.

See the full results here

Photo: Getty

Explore more data & articles