Charlestown, RI – Valentine gift giving abounds, with chocolate, flowers and jewelry all fare game. A self-professed lover of romance, I thought I’d take a moment away from the mundane and drudgery to indulge you all…
When in Rome
The roots of Valentine’s Day are said to extend back to an ancient Roman fertility festival called Lupercalia held in mid-February, that was later Christianized by the Catholic Church and dubbed St. Valentine’s Day.
As reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, opinions differ about whom the spirit of St. Valentine was created. The most popular theory is said to be a clergyman who was executed for secretly marrying couples in ancient Rome, after Emperor Claudius II banned marriage for young Roman men (war being preferable to love).
Declared a holiday by Pope Gelasius I in A.D. 496, February 14 is celebrated as a day of love in countries across the world.
Sometime in the 1300’s, the common folk reclaimed the holiday, returning the celebration to that of love and romance.
History.com reports more than 6 million couples get engaged on the amorous holiday.
Rather talk numbers than romance? (Ugh.)
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, a Massachusetts native, Esther Howland, sold the first mass-produced Valentine cards in the 1840s.
Let us all thank Esther for her original effort, that in today’s market sees more than 145 million units sold, excluding children’s classroom Valentines.
According to the Greeting Card Association, the industry estimates annual sales of greeting cards between $7 and $8 billion, with Valentine’s Day sales coming in second only to Christmas in seasonal statistics.
The Valentines holiday alone contributes billions of dollars to the U.S. economy, with industry employers providing hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country, annually.
More than 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are produced for the lover’s holiday, and more than 220 million roses prepared.
The chocolate, cocoa and floral industries alone, employed more than 150,000 workers combined per 2011 Census estimates.
Jewelry takes the bronze medal in the U.S. for Valentine’s sales with an estimated $4 billion of shiny sparkling swag sold. (Really?)