Lilly Calman is not in the mood this Valentine’s Day for the flowers, chocolates or a romantic dinner for two, especially after a recent breakup.
“I’m very angry,” said Ms Calman, 26, adding that it had been painful to see all the holiday paraphernalia in store aisles.
She found a more fitting outlet for her mood this year: a fundraiser for San Antonio Zoo that will symbolically name a roach or rodent after an ex and feed it to one of the zoo’s animals.
“The visual image of him getting eaten by a Komodo dragon is pretty satisfying,” said Ms Calman, who donated US$25 (S$34) for the rat option. She is hoping the zoo sends her a video so she can host a screening with a friend.
The annual campaign has raised more than US$235,000 since the zoo first ran it in 2020, underscoring the appeal of alternative Valentine’s Day rituals for people who are uninterested in the coupledom of it all.
The traditions of Valentine’s Day bring strong feelings, both for and against. Do you appreciate a cute tradition? Or do you hold it in contempt as a consumerist scam? Critics have blamed it for upholding a narrow-minded model of relationships as heterosexual and monogamous.
But the holiday, and its spending, isn’t going anywhere; a majority of people in the United States plan to celebrate or mark the day this year, according to this year’s version of an annual survey by the National Retail Federation, a lobbying group for the industry.
Those celebrations, however, have broadened to include friends and family, pets and even yourself. Marketers are taking note, and trying to find more avenues that resonate with even the naysayers.
“Valentine’s Day is a holiday that has basically morphed over time,” said Prof Barbara Bickart, associate professor of marketing at Questrom School of Business at Boston University. “Marketers are figuring out ways to be more inclusive and sensitive.”
The candy brand Sweethearts this year, for example, launched a “situationships” edition with blurred writing for those in undefined relationships. (The...