Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is the holiday of love. Couples new and old celebrate with romantic dinners, weekend getaways, and of course, all the chocolate and candy one’s heart may desire. Although Valentine’s Day is well-known throughout the world as a holiday for celebrating relationships, there are most likely a handful of facts about February 14th that aren’t common knowledge.
According to the National Retail Federation, Valentine’s Day spending in 2016 hit a record of $19.7 billion. Nearly 55% of Americans celebrated with the holiday staples: dining out, flowers, candy, cards, and other love-infused gifts. On average, men spend $133 on their significant other, while women spend $62. Oddly enough, an average of $26 is spent for pets on Valentine’s Day, too.
The most amount of money is spent on candy each year, followed closely by flowers and jewelry. Greeting cards make up 36% of spending while heading out on the town comes in at 20%. Gift cards and clothing round out the spending at around 15% each, while others get creative on non-categorized gifts at 10%. Overall, Valentine’s Day spending continues to climb each year as more Americans decide to celebrate their love.
There are two theories behind the start of Valentine’s Day as a national celebration, but both begin with the Romans. The first involves a day-long festival known as Lupercalia where men stripped down to nothing and performed rituals meant to encourage fertility among young women. The second theory is based on a ban of marriage put in place by a Roman Emperor to keep young men in the army from being distracted. St. Valentine went against that ban and performed secret marriages for those madly in love. Unfortunately, St. Valentine was executed for defying the ban on, you guessed it, February 14th.
Each Valentine’s Day, millions of greeting cards are purchased and given to show adoration. The Greeting Card Association estimates that 145 million cards are gifted each year, not including cards given within the classroom, and most cards are purchased just six days before the holiday. Surprisingly, teachers are the winners when it comes to receiving Valentine’s Day cards, followed by other children (most often from other children or parents), moms, wives, and girlfriends. Valentine’s Day cards represent the most varied greeting cards created each year, with Hallmark alone making more than 1,400 different cards. In recent years, cards sent via e-mail have crept up in popularity, with an estimated 15 million sent (2010).
Valentine’s Day is booming business in the United States, but other countries celebrate, too. In Japan, February 14 represents a day on which wives and girlfriends are expected to give gifts to their significant others. Men are to reciprocate the kind gesture on a different day altogether – March 14, or White Day. In India, the political powers that be have actually spoken harshly about the holiday, expressing their concerns that it is simply a way to boost profits for certain industries.
For better or worse, Valentine’s Day is a popular holiday to display appreciation for your loved ones. Whether you’re opting to celebrate this year or not, you can have fun knowing how much is spent on gifts and romantic gestures, the questioned history behind the holiday, and the traditions – or lack thereof – other countries follow on February 14.
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