By: Mia Mills
The month of love is upon us— or the month of sheer annoyance. So, how did the day consisting of candlelit dinners at your nearest Olive Garden and cheap Hallmark cards come into play? The origins of the holiday would seem to have a romantic backstory, however, the story begins with Roman Emperor Claudius II executing two men, both named Valentine. The Catholic church condemned the deaths, recognizing the Valentines as martyrs, and honored them by declaring Feb. 14 St. Valentine’s Day.
What made the execution of two men romantic? Author William Shakespeare romanticized the bloody disaster in his work “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by referencing St. Valentine’s Day. As a result, handmade cards were exchanged among lovers throughout Britain as a celebration of Valentine’s Day. News spread to the United States and Hallmark began selling Valentine’s Day cards in 1913.
Some may argue that Feb. 14 is another holiday for big-time corporations to increase profit margins by selling heart-shaped candies and plush bears. According to the National Retail Federation, it is estimated that $27.4 billion was spent by Americans for Valentine’s Day in 2020. Unfortunately, the numbers prove this point. However, Valentine’s Day is not alone. Other holidays such as Mother’s Day and Independence Day cost Americans an estimated $25 billion and $6.7 billion respectively.
While the thought of gifting this Valentine’s Day would be considered a romantic gesture for celebrating the death anniversary of two Romans, I would suggest ditching the retail chocolate and flowers. Get creative and make the gift more personable. Have a lovely Valentine’s Day.