About 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year. It is the second-largest seasonal card-sending occasion of the year, after Christmas.
During this the three-week period leading up to Valentines Day, 110 million roses, mostly red ones, will be sold and delivered. Of people who buy flowers for Valentine’s Day 73 percent are men; only 27 percent are women.
Valentine’s Day is big business. Consumers will spend an average of $77.43 on Valentine’s Day gifts this year. Internet retailers expect to rack up about $650 million in sales of food, candy, flowers and other Valentine’s Day gifts. Of that amount about $350 million will be for gifts and flowers and another $45 million will be spent on food (including chocolate).
That’s the commercial side.
Historically, numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine. The Valentines honored on Feb. 14 are Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni.
Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred about AD 496. Valentine of Terni became bishop of Interamna (modern Terni) about AD 197 and is said to have been martyred during the persecution under Emperor Aurelian.
The idea didn’t become a romantic one until the Middle Ages. Chivalrous knights wooed their lady loves long before heart-shaped candy and the concept of ordering flowers with a smart phone app.
These are the cold facts about this holiday. But there is more.
The meaning of Valentines Day changes over the years.
When we are little kids, we broke out that Big Chief tablet, safety scissors and crayons to make that special heart-shaped card for mom. In grade school, picked out those boxes of cards with the nasty suckers to hand out to classmates.
As we got a little older and were trying to impress that first special someone, we scrimped and saved for that special card and took time to write a special verse for our beloved. Then came jewelry, gift cards for spa treatments and massages, and other more elaborate gifts.
Interestingly enough, those expensive gifts probably didn’t mean any more to our loved ones than those hand-drawn creations. They just cost more.
Perhaps it really is the thought that counts.