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Why Do We Celebrate "Hallmark Holidays"?

Updated on May 13, 2015
The will find me and they will kill me.
The will find me and they will kill me. | Source

The same thing happens every year

“I hate going on Facebook today,” said the woman sitting across from me absently scrolling Facebook on her touchpad. “All these ‘mommy-people’ are crowing on how great it is to be a mother.” She says more and uses the terms “crotch fruit”, “mombie”, and “moo cow” freely and each word is verbally underlined in her own custom made vitriol laced with snake venom.

I drank my coffee and continued reading my book.

Today is the second Sunday in May. I’ve made a mental note to call my mother today and tell her I love her – just as I know that I’ll be doing the same thing in a month with my father. Two months ago, I bought some colorful card with some thoughtful writing on it along with some chocolates that come in specially heart shaped box marketed to clueless men who have no idea what to buy their significant other but want them to enjoy their candy while keeping fit.

I’m stupid that way.

In some roundabout way, I know it’s for the best and I know that I need to be kept abreast of small reminders throughout the year. I need to remember my parents and appreciate them. I need to remember my wife and know that she occupies a place in my heart – near the aorta or in one of the main chambers – someplace that won’t cause a blockage or give my cardiologist concern. It’s what we do.

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We make sacrifices each year to the gods of the Hallmark card company. Somewhere in the back of my mind I’m thinking that they keep track. Somehow, they’ve gotten hold of my credit card number and have been able to use their near omnipotence to see if I’ve bought anything this year and if I haven’t I’ll get a bit of tree pulp in the mail telling me I’ve sinned and must do some kind of penance.

It will probably involve flowers or candy.

It is only within the last few years that I’ve begun to see some backlash amongst consumers. I hear the same thing chanted by women all over town and around the Internet. “I don’t celebrate Hallmark Holidays!” It’s the politically correct battle cry of consumer rebellion. They chant, “NO MORE CARDS! NO MORE CARDS!!”

They are angry and they’re not going to take it anymore.

Rank of Holiday Card Buying

Valentine's Day
2nd highest for card giving
Mother's Day
3rd largest for card giving
Father's Day
4th largest for card giving
Largest for card exchange

A few simple stats

Normally, when I write my hubs, I try to keep things light and informal. I’ve taken the Scott Adams approach to graphs, statistics, and facts. He said that statistics are used only to make his point - no one elses.

I’m really no different. However, in this specific case, I’m just going to give you some food for thought because 1) I really don’t care whether you jump on the “Anti-Hallmark-Holiday” bandwagon or not and 2) they seemed interesting.

I got these facts from none other than the Hallmark site.

Mother’s Day Cards:

  • Card prices range from 99 cents to $9.99
  • Mother’s Day is the third-largest card-sending holiday in the United States, with 120 million cards exchanged annually.
  • Almost 85% of adult men and women celebrate Mother’s Day.
  • Mother's Day is the largest card-sending holiday for the Hispanic community. Depending on the country, Mother's Day is celebrated on many different days throughout the year. In Mexico, it is always celebrated May 10.
  • Mother’s Day is the second most popular holiday for gift-giving, following Christmas.
  • Hallmark began creating and producing Mother’s Day cards in the early 1920s.

Father’s Day Cards:

  • Father’s Day is always the third Sunday in June.
  • Father’s Day is the fourth-largest card-sending holiday in the United States, with 80 million cards exchanged annually.
  • 50 percent of all Father’s Day cards are purchased for dads. Nearly 20 percent of Father’s Day cards are purchased for husbands. Other categories include grandfathers, sons, brothers, uncles, and someone special.
  • Humor cards account for about 25 percent of Father’s Day sales.
  • Hallmark has been producing Father’s Day cards since the early 1920s.

If your heart is really that big, consider surgery.
If your heart is really that big, consider surgery. | Source

Valentine’s Day Cards:

  • Approximately 132 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged industry-wide (not including packaged kids’ valentines for classroom exchanges), making Valentine’s Day the second-largest holiday for giving greeting cards.
  • In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Denmark, and Italy.
  • Hallmark first offered Valentine’s Day cards in 1913 and began producing them in 1916.
  • According to the National Retail Federation, the average person celebrating Valentine's Day spent nearly $134 in 2014.
  • In 1849, Esther Howland of Worcester, Mass., published the first American valentine.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker has her own line of Valentine gifts and cards.

According to Hallmark, they, as a business, are responding to a demand. They are not creating the holidays and are merely responding to what other people want. The creation of these holidays has come about through any of the following: Congressional resolution, proclamations, religious observances, cultural traditions, or grassroots leadership.

In any event, that’s the company line.

Not something I'd wear to the office
Not something I'd wear to the office | Source

The down side

Whether Hallmark has made up the holidays or has only responded to consumer need, one thing is certainly true; some people just don’t want to hear about it.

It’s one thing not to get a card. It’s quite another to get a barrage of reminders about a holiday you genuinely hate. While the card companies are making their fortunes, there is a portion of our population that actively avoids these days.

The social media phenomenon has hit our group consciousness with a vengeance. Holidays, birthdays, events, and news of the day is doled out in gargantuan portions. When Valentine’s Day hits, people post their heartfelt wishes online to Facebook or Google or the social media outlet of their choice and every one of his or her friends gets to hear about it. This is by design.

However, somewhere you’ll have a friend, acquaintance, or a group of people you know that could not only care less but are offended for whatever reason their own psychological stew has made. Perhaps they don’t have a Valentine because their spouse has passed recently. Perhaps they have never found that certain someone. Perhaps they have been in some disfiguring accident that makes them feel unwanted. Perhaps they’re going through a painful divorce?

Or maybe some people just don’t like your chosen love. (If that is really the case and you don’t speak up for your beloved – that’s all on you.)

The same could be said about Mother’s Day. There are a plethora of women who just had a bad relationship with their mothers. Maybe Mom just died and the memory is still painful. From a mother’s point of view, they could be estranged from their kids and the very reminder is enough to cause a week of depression. There are also women who have miscarried. Just the memory of that event alone has been a traumatic trigger.

Or how about the women who just revel in their maternal experience? These are the women who have no other identity or interest outside of their kids and now want to soak in what they consider their holiday. It’s enough to keep you nauseated for a month (until Father’s Day).

Social media brings all of this into fine relief. I’ve read people who are easily hurt by these events just say they’re off their computer for a few days until all the crap passes and they eagerly await a return to normalcy.

We are no longer islands and it is has become harder and harder to escape these things.

Final Words

I want you to know something. I couldn’t care less about these holidays.

I really live for only a few that matter: Thanksgiving, the Yuletide Season, birthdays, and Independence Day. I like the vacations I get for President’s Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, and New Years. However, like them as I do, I really don’t do anything special for any of them. It’s not like I go out on President’s Day go through the list of everyone who was president and say, “This guy was really a good president” or “Millard Fillmore really needed to get more attention.”

I’m more likely to check out whether or not I can get a better car deal that weekend.

I celebrate Independence Day because I like fireworks. I don’t feel any more or less patriotic that day. The only day I really look at with a bit of nationalistic passion is September 11th. I have my own rituals and they are about appreciating life and that I’m still around to suck air instead of getting caught with the other casualties of downtown New York. It means something to me.

I love my Mom and I appreciate that there’s a day out there that acts like an iPhone app to remind me to call her every so often. I shouldn’t feel obligated by commercialism or peer pressure – it really should come from me.

When we celebrate any day, it’s because it’s important to us. We need that time to either reflect on something or to revel in that moment. That’s why I think birthdays are important. It’s a mark to remember that someone is still around and that sometimes a rite of passage is gained.

When we speak about days like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day, we should think about them as that little reminder we set up on our smartphone. We need to remember that if we love our significant other or parents, we should make time to appreciate them. If not, it’s just another day of the week.

© 2015 Christopher Peruzzi


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