by Kristina Knauer

It’s that time of year again — Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. This ages old, celebrated holiday captures the spirit of romance in all of us, encouraging us to open our wallets and make a dinner reservation or buy flowers, cards, candy, and jewelry… perhaps even a ring. Or does it?

Valentine’s Day, sometimes also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated once a year on February 14th. Because of the “saint” connection, we know that it has roots in the Western Christian tradition, but at this point it’s expanded beyond a religious purview and is celebrated by lovers of many different religions and cultures.

There is reason to believe that Saint Valentine wasn’t just one person. There were many Saint Valentines, even including a pope. But the founder of Valentine’s Day is most famous for defying Emperor Cladius II. Cladius had banned marriage, fearing that it would distract soliders, so Valentine would secretly perform marriages.

Even now, centuries later, people are still spending a lot of hard-earned money on Valentine’s Day. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent over $20.7 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2019. More than half of American consumers sent at least one card, close to half sent candy, and a third sent flowers. Despite this, spending on more traditional Valentine’s day recipients is actually in decline. underlines that the holiday is geared for people looking to buy presents for their significant other or partner. They offered the following breakdown of how people spent.

$357.90 Wives
$280.07 Kids
$235.56 Themselves
$231.55 Girlfriends
$208.10 Friends
$206.23 Husbands
$160.13 Secret Lovers
$146.24 Other Family Members
$105.02 Boyfriends
$95.90 Pet Cats
$81.56 Dogs

Hard as it may be to believe, people are spending more on their cats than their dogs. And boyfriends are barely beating out those furry friends. Also strange is how much people are spending on themselves… But that probably includes those fancy dinner and hotel reservations.

Before writing this piece, I would have guessed that most people are still celebrating Valentine’s day for the right reasons. But an informal poll I conducted with my friends indicates that a lot of married couples don’t celebrate the holiday after years of marriage — even if they did while they were dating, engaged, or newly married. Common sentiments seemed to be that they didn’t need a holiday to prove their love, and that the restaurant song and dance seemed tiring. Other interesting anecdotes included reservations being stolen by local celebrities and not being able to locate the restaurant itself. That must have been before GPS… In any case, it appears that Valentine’s Day loses its allure after years of dating.

Woman’s Day discovered that three in ten adults reported that they were not celebrating the holiday — although they may still get a small gift or enjoy a night out with close friends and family. It’s hard to say if this was because they were single, or they were just over the cheesiness of the holiday.

A Lindt Chocolates survey reported that men who would have once sent cards, would rather declare their love via text message or email. Around 29% of people will receive a romantic text, which isn’t surprising because our phones are everything nowadays. But gallantry and chivalry seem to be on their way out as well. Two thirds of women expect to share the cost of their Valentine’s date. But once again, more and more couples are opting not to exchange gifts or even celebrate the holiday, marking the fourth year in a row that Valentine’s Day participants are in decline. I guess spending loads of money on a Hallmark holiday isn’t as romantic in the modern age. Couples would rather spend quality time together.

So if I send an “I heart U” text to my half asleep husband on the other end of the couch on February 14th I’m doing as good as a third of the population? Score. More money for 75% off chocolate. If I give him one of the peanut butter hearts out of the bag it counts as a “gift,” right?


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