By now, we all know how the cliche Valentine’s Day goes down. A box of heart shaped assorted chocolates from CVS (Target if you’re classy), a dozen red roses, and a teddy bear holding a heart that says “I LOVE YOU” in the middle. It’s cute and all when you’re twelve and you watch it in the movies, and you can’t wait till you have an actual Valentine. But in reality, most of us are over here, turning up on Singles Awareness Day. But do you know what really makes Valentine’s Day so fake? The commercialization of it. It’s just another retail holiday. In 2014, a calculated amount of money America as a whole spent for or on Valentine’s Day was… $18.9 billion. Not a typo, that’s supposed to be a b in billion. Some lovely website decided to break down what that money was spent on. (http://www.business2community.com)
- $5.2 million- Flowers
- $50 million- Jewelry
- $38.3 million- apparel
- $18.6 million- specialty gifts
- $7.2 million- movies
- $7.1 million- Restaurants
- $1.2 million- salons and spas
Fun fact: approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas. So retail companies took Jesus’s birthday first, and now the day of love and romance. Nice guys.
The really sad part is that the majority of the people don’t even know the history behind the holiday or that there is any history behind it in the first place. Although there is not one exact historical story on how it came to be, there are many legends. The most famous tale says that St. Valentine was a priest who served during 3rd c.Rome. Emperor Claudius II supposedly decided that single men made better soldiers than those who were married and had families, so he outlawed marriage for young men. St. Valentine rebelled against the newly forbidden act of marriage and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. The reasoning behind the date of the holiday also has many legends, some regarding an ancient pagan fertility festival and others claiming it’s the anniversary of St. Valentine’s death or burial, neither of which were confirmed. However, at the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until the middle ages that the day became definitively associated with love. It was believed in England and France that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which contributed to the idea that Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.
The whole point of the holiday is to treat someone you love a little extra special for a day, and that’s fine. But don’t let the retail companies trick you into spending $100’s because it’s not necessary. Quality over quantity. Get creative.
Photo Credit: Emily Cook