“February 14 th, when people give small presents, chocolate candy, flowers, or cards to someone they admire or love.”
“February 14, a day when it is traditional to send a card, often anonymously, to a person one is romantically involved with or attracted to.”
No-one has managed to pinpoint the exact origins of the festival but investigations and rumor gravitate to ancient Rome.
Legend has it St Valentine was a Roman priest who performed weddings in secret for desperate couples. After Emperor Claudius declared single men were more proficient soldiers, marriage for young men was banned. But once Claudius discovered the secret weddings, St Valentine was beheaded on February 14. Bruce Forbes, a professor of religious studies, says the varying legends of St Valentine are so similar to one another, the tales may be about the same man.
Academics believe the first instance of Valentine’s Day occurred in the 14 th century thanks to famous English poet Geoffrey Chaucer. In his poem Parliament of Fowls, Chaucer referenced St Valentine and a series of romantic positive highlights that eventually became popular throughout Europe.
As the years went on, the holiday grew more rose-tinted. Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized it in their work, and its celebration became widespread throughout Britain and most of Europe. Handmade paper cards became the standard mark of affection in the Middle Ages.
“My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite.– William Shakespeare
The tradition ballooned in popularity when postal infrastructure improved in the mid 19 century. The English penny post made sending romantic notes possible meaning traditionally reserved Victorians were free to express ‘unchristian’ like sentiments with what the London Review called “scandalous productions, vilely drawn, wretchedly engraved, and hastily dabbed over with staring colors.”
Eventually, the tradition made its way to North America. The industrial revolution invented factory-made cards in the 19 th century. February had been changed forever. In 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo., began mass-producing Valentine cards. In 1868 Cadbury was the first to put chocolates in heart-shaped boxes.
Today, the holiday is a money maker. Partners will rush out and buy endearing presents from jewelry to perfumes to surprise their dates or loved ones. The typical hotel rate on Valentine’s Day is 25 percent more than it is on the same day just one week before. According to market research firm IBIS World, Valentine’s Day sales In 2019 U.S, Valentine’s Day shoppers set new spending records. They added $20.7 billion to the economy, according to the U.S National Retail Federation.
“Hearts will never be practical until they are made unbreakable.” ~ Wizard of Oz
Another praiseworthy quote is by Lord Byron: “Love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to prey.”
Only 51 percent of the U.S population plans to celebrate Valentines’ Day, the lowest since at least 2009. The previous low was 55 percent in 2018. The record high was 63 percent in 2007.
One reason could be national demographics. The proportion of older people continues to get larger, and they are less likely to celebrate the holiday. Younger people, who still try to impress potential mates, join in more than older, more settled people.
Staggeringly, in 2019 celebrants were spending a record amount of $161.96 per person. That beat the 2016 record of $146.84. It’s also 13 percent more than the $143.56 spent in 2018. Consumers spent $136.57 in 2017, $142.31 in 2015, and $133.91 in 2014 in the U.S. The lowest spending was $102.50 in 2009.
Like clockwork, men spent almost twice as much as women: $229.54 per guy versus $97.77 per woman. Men’s spending was up 20 percent while women’s spending was down 1 percent.
One reason for the gender gap is income. In 2018, those making $50,000 a year or more spent $169.32 each versus $109.14 per person making less than $50,000.
Top 5 Valentine’s Day Purchases
More people shopped for less expensive gifts, proving the old saying that it’s the thought that counts. Here are the top five gifts…
Purchase Percent Billions Spent Candy 52% $1.8 Greeting cards 44% $0.9 Evening out 34% $3.5 Flowers 35% $1.9 Jewelry 18% $3.9
You may be interested in this FindaSpeech short video on the history of St Patrick’s Day and how to celebrate it