Elizabeth Barrett Browning said, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”. Today she may have included a card and a gift and sent her greeting to someone she loved on February 14th. Valentine’s Day will be here soon and card stores, florists, candy stores and jewelry stores will be geared up for the big day.
Valentine’s Day is the second largest day for card sales with sales being around 188 million cards. Those figures don’t include all the boxes of Valentines that children buy to exchange at school. A lot of those Valentine Day cards will have little jewelry boxes attached because in the 28,772 jewelry stores in the United States in 2004, 2.6 billion dollars worth of jewelry was sold in February that year.
Florists have full staffs the week of Valentine’s Day also because 25% of all fresh flower sales happen that week. Roses rank first with an estimate of 187 million roses produced for Valentine’s Day. Assorted flower bouquets are the next best flower sellers for Valentine’s Day.
Last, but certainly not least, is candy. Valentine’s Day is the number one week for domestic chocolate sales for a total of $345 million spent on chocolate.
So who is this St. Valentine that caused this shopping frenzy for one week in February. One story goes like this. Valentine was the name of a priest who lived in Rome during the days of Emperor Claudius II. Claudius decided that single men made better soldiers than men who had wives and children. So in order to have the very best soldiers he could, Claudius outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine thought that the law was unfair and decided to continue marrying young couples in secret. Of course, Claudius found out and didn’t like that idea so he had Valentine killed. Valentine became a saint and Valentine’s Day is recognized to this day.
Another legend says that Valentine was once imprisoned and fell in love with the daughter of the jailor. She also fell in love with him and visited him faithfully every day until he died. Right before he died, he wrote her a letter signing it “from your Valentine” just as many cards are still signed today.
Whatever the reason, Valentine’s Day caught on and seems to be here to stay. It is not a national holiday so the banks and stores will be open to help you with your purchases. If money is tight this year, make your Valentine a card or write a poem.
If you need help, here is another famous love quote you might want to use. Henry Ward Beecher said “Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep-burning, unquenchable.”