Gifts and cards worth billions


St. Valentine’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Feast of St. Valentine, these are probably some of the more popular names that people have heard of in regards to the day of love.

Coming up quickly on Feb. 14, I have seen numerous people scrambling to figure out what it is they are going to purchase for their significant other.

I am not going to lie this holiday is really not my favorite.

Please, do not get me wrong. I understand that this is a day to celebrate love; not just for a boyfriend or girlfriend, but for friends and family members, as well.

One issue that I have with Valentine’s Day is how excessive it has become. I will reference some facts and statistics in a minute, but for the meantime, here is a brief history of our saint of love.

For starters, there is very little evidence left of St. Valentine. In fact, the Catholic Church speculates there could have been a few Valentines. The most famous of the legends contends that Valentine served as a priest during the third century A.D. in Rome, under the rule of Emperor Claudius II. If you know your Roman history, then maybe you have heard that some of the emperors could be described as slightly insane.

Well, Claudius was no exception. He decided that young, single Roman men made better soldiers than husbands. Thus, he outlawed marriage for young men. St. Valentine saw the injustice in this and continued to marry young couples in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius sentenced him to death. This is one of the legends that correspond with the idea that the Valentines we may know about all died as martyrs.

The story is nice, regardless of the lack of hard factual evidence. I would argue that Valentine’s actions were incredibly selfless. My Roman history professor would argue that this makes St. Valentine a prime example of the “perfect Roman.” St. Valentine did this knowing he was putting his life in danger. Whether real or not, he died in the name of love, so to speak.

However, true to monetary history, couples today seem to be sacrificing their money more than anything else during this holiday. Here in lies my issue. By all means, celebrate your relationships. Whether they end up making a positive or negative impact on your life, I am a firm believer that they meant something to you for a reason.

According to CNN, $130.97 is the average amount spent, per person, on the holiday.

In total, $18.6 billion will be spent toward gifts on Valentine’s Day. People will spend $1.6 billion on candy. Couples will dole out $1.9 billion on flowers. To top it all off, people will spend around $4.4 billion on gold, silver and diamonds. Please take note that I am not mentioning millions here, I am mentioning billions spent on flowers that will decay in a week and sugary candy that will lead to cavities.

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that there are 148 manufacturing plants that produce chocolate. These plants employ 35,538 people. There are around 393 dating service establishments, nationwide, as of 2007. These establishments employ 3,125 people and have raised $928 million in revenue.

I would be happier with a small random gift, than solely on Valentine’s Day.

I think that people can go out and celebrate without having to spend close to a billion dollars on candy. Think about what I just said — billions of dollars are spent on candy for one day of the year.

I find it somewhat interesting that American society has spent most of its history debating and fighting, yet we seem to be more than willing to invest in love, too. 

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