When I turned on the news this morning, I was inundated with reminders that today is Valentine’s Day. From the “Managing Your Expectations” segment on Global News to the overly sappy jewelry commercials (doesn’t it feel like the People’s and Michael Hill commercials are hauntingly similiar?) I felt more pressure to write a blog post sharing my contempt for this commercially designated day of love, than to waste time worrying that I am spending it alone.
Most people have no idea that the history of St. Valentine is fraught with torture and pain, not unlike some relationships. Ancient legend says that Valentine, a Christian priest was beaten, stoned and finally decapitated on February 14 approximately 1,700 years ago in Rome. His crime? Continuing to marry young lovers after Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for younger men because he believed being single made them better soldiers. One version of the story tells us that while Valentine was imprisoned and awaiting execution, he healed his jailer’s daughter of blindness. Before being taken out to die, it is alleged that he wrote the young girl a letter and signed it “from your Valentine”…an expression that’s still in use today.
February has long been celebrated as the month of romance. While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death, others claim that the Christian church decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan ritual of Lupercalia – a fertility festival in which young men and women were paired off in a sort of sexual sweepstakes.
Fast forward to modern times…where the commercialism associated with February 14 and the pressure of being single on this scheduled day of love, is staggering.
The economy loves Valentine’s Day. It is projected an estimated $18.2 billon will be spent trying to prove your love. To put that in perspective, it would be the equivalent of paying to drool over Ryan Gosling in La La Land approximately 2 billion times.
For those who are more pragmatic, here is Valentine’s Day…by the numbers.
- 180,000,000 – Number of Valentine’s cards exchanged annually
- 198,000,000 – Number of roses produced for Valentine’s Day
- 85 – percentage of cards bought by women
- 73 – percentage of all flowers bought by men
- 14 – percentage of women who send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day
- 61.8 – percentage of consumers who celebrate Valentine’s Day
- 53 – percentage of women who would end their relationship if they didn’t get something for Valentine’s Day
- 11,000 – number of babies conceived on Valentine’s Day
While the quest for social acceptance coupled with the V-Day marketing machine might have you believe that romance is just what everyone needs to be happy, take heart (no pun intended)…
Being single is not a status. It is a word that best describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on other people…and those most likely to spend their evening at the theatre drooling over Ryan…