Can’t Buy Me Love

You don’t have to know me for very long before you discover I have a sweet tooth. So much so, that the guy at the Italian bakery counter across the street seems to think I have a crush on him, “Does she really eat sweets every day?” he must think, smil­ing smugly.

So, as you can imagine, when it comes to Valentine’s Day, receiving candy and chocolates isn’t a big deal for me. In fact, I’ve been munching on cinnamon hearts for the past month and a half. I buy them for myself. Jewelry? Dinner? Nah, I have enough bling, am a good cook, and dine out often. So what’s a guy to do to win my heart on February 14th? You’d be surprised.

First, let’s take a look at the history of Valentine’s Day. The cynics among you may believe that advertisers invented the day in an attempt to sell products. Although it has increasingly become a commercial holiday popularized by North America, its origins do indeed exist in love.

The Legend of Valentine’s Day
In a scheme to grow his army, Roman Emperor Claudius II ordered that young men remain single. He believed that unmarried men made for better soldiers. Naturally, this caused much distress among lovers. A priest named Valentine came to the rescue and performed secret marriage ceremonies for them. When Claudius discovered the betrayal, he had Valentine arrested, jailed, and ordered an execution. Valen­tine died on Feb­ru­ary 14th.

In 1382, Geof­frey Chaucer recorded the first asso­ci­a­tion of Valentine’s Day with roman­tic love in Parlement of Foules:

For this was on seynt Volan­tynys day
When euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
(“For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”)
Shakespeare, Donne, and many others followed suit in their literature and Valentine’s Day and love quickly became synonymous.

Valentine’s Day Becomes Commercial
In 1797 Britain, The Young Man’s Valentine’s Writer was published containing sentimental verses for lovers who were not able to compose their own. Printers began producing their own valentines, and with the reduction in postal rates, exchanging cards gained in popularity.
In 1847 America, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold.

Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have increasingly been replaced by mass-produced greeting cards.

In the latter half of the 20th century, gifts such as chocolates and roses were included in addition to cards exchanged on Valentine’s Day. In the 1980s, the diamond industry extended its hand, and promoted the day as an occasion for giving jewelry.

North Amer­i­can Con­sumer Report
Today, more than ever, we live in a consumerist culture, and many lovers subscribe to the notion that Valentine’s Day is about exchanging gifts.

Advertisers are keen on knowing how much and where people spend.


Source: BIGre­search®, Con­sumer Inten­tions & Actions® Sur­vey, JAN-11

One of my most memorable Valentine’s Day didn’t cost a thing. It was a heartfelt letter from an admirer. His note was the sweetest gift; can­died hearts and tiramisu paled in comparison.

I loved him more than chocolate.

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