You know it is February when you see red, heart-shaped boxes of candy all over every store you are in, even the local bookstore! You know it is February when advertisements for florists, chocolatiers, and greeting cards are in your face everywhere you go in both the real and virtual world. The reason? It is called Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is what I refer to as a “faux holiday”, but there is nothing faux about the $19 billion that will be spent for candy, flowers, cards, jewelry, etc. Why do people go gaga over Valentine’s Day?
- One-quarter of men spend because they feel obligated or are just trying to get lucky. According to a recent poll, roughly half of men say they celebrate Valentine’s Day in order to “spend quality time with my partner.” (What, you can’t spend time with her without bringing flowers? You need a new partner!) However, nearly one-quarter of men admit that they mark Valentine’s Day out of a sense of obligation or “because they’re hoping to get lucky.” Meanwhile, 13% of women say they celebrate just “because everyone else does.”
- The longer the relationship, and the older you get, the less you spend. Love may or may not fade over time, but the likelihood of going all out on Valentine’s gifts sure seems to die the longer couples are together. One poll shows that men spend an average of $154 on fiancés, versus $136 for wives.
- Americans will spend more than $700 million on Valentine’s gifts … for pets. That’s according to the National Retail Federation. And that’s roughly double what we spend on Halloween costumes for pets, which is probably good—surely your dog prefers a Valentine’s snack to being dressed up in a ludicrous Madonna outfit.
- 1 in 5 women buy Valentine’s gifts … for themselves. Data cited by the Society of American Florists indicates that while men are more likely to buy Valentine’s gifts for their spouses—63% of men versus 30% of women—the ladies are more inclined to buy for their moms (30% versus 11% of men), friends (19% versus 7%) and themselves (19% versus 1%).
- Rose prices spike just in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s not just your imagination. Roses really do get more expensive around February 14. While wholesale prices vary depending on location, florists say they typically pay twice as much for roses in early February than they do at most other times of the year. It boils down to supply and demand: Roses cost more for Valentine’s Day because people are willing to pay more. (Filosofa’s favourite flower is the dandelion … they grow wild and free!)
- The two people most responsible for modern-day Valentine’s Day were entrepreneurs trying to make a buck. For centuries, Valentine’s Day was a mashup of a wild Roman pagan festival known as Lupercalia and the celebration of two Catholic saints (both named Valentine) who were executed on February 14. By the Middle Ages, it had become somewhat of a tradition to offer a handmade card or flowers to one’s beloved. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s, however, that it became popular to give mass-produced chocolates and Valentine’s messages, and we have two business-minded visionaries to thank for this. First, there’s Richard Cadbury, a member of the famous chocolate-making family that been perfecting the bite-sized delectable then known as “eating chocolate.” Cadbury had the brilliant idea of packaging and selling these chocolates in heart-shaped boxes for Valentine’s Day, and the rest is history. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, a Massachusetts woman named Esther Howland was building her reputation as the “Mother of the American Valentine” for designing and popularizing high-quality lace-paper Valentine cards featuring messages of love and devotion.
Now seriously, folks, people complain about inflation, the economy, fuel prices, food prices, taxes, and the like, but they are willing to spend upward of $100 for a Valentine’s Day gift? Personally, I can feed my family for a week, buy cigarettes for two weeks, buy four Christmas gifts, or buy ten books for this amount! And personally, I just don’t find a heart-shaped box of candy or roses to be all that romantic. Now granted, I am not a romantic person … I know this. I am a pragmatist. However, I do have what passes for a romantic side, but do you want to know what I think is romantic? A phone call just to say “Hi, I was thinking of you and just wanted to see how your day is going.” Cleaning the snow from my car without being asked. A pat on the head. There are so many other (read less expensive) ways to show love, that to spend so much money on flowers that will die within a few days or chocolates that will be consumed within a few hours just seems ridiculous to me. For anyone interested in the history of Valentine’s Day … http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day.
By the way, February 16th is “Do a Grouch a Favour Day”! If anyone would like to come re-vent my clothes dryer, shampoo my carpet, vacuum my stairs, or clean out my storage shed …