Love is in the air! Or at least, it’s in our faces.
Most people have seen the red and pink hearts imprinted on just about everything in the pharmacy aisles and grocery store shelves; tiny candy grams featuring famous pop idols suddenly crowd together in a newly-designated pink and red section of the store.
Something big is happening. Something romantic, perhaps?
It’s not every day you see multiple guys carrying teddy bears with a heart-shaped pillow donning the words “I love you,” or rushing down the aisles at the store to snatch up as many Valentine’s Day knick-knacks as they can.
Men and boys alike infiltrate the grocery store lines with bouquets of roses and whatever else was left over.
Valentine’s Day is serious business, literally.
Like any other holiday, V-Day is a very lucrative market for big candy and greeting card companies, which is why many people in the U.S. have come to call it a “Hallmark Holiday.”
This nickname isn’t completely without merit. Valentine’s Day wasn’t always as widely celebrated in the U.S.
It wasn’t until Hallmark Cards started mass-producing Valentines in 1913 during the Industrial Revolution that it began growing in public participation.
The origins of Valentine’s Day are a bit convoluted and even downright macabre.
Two martyrs named Valentine were both sacrificed on Feb. 14, 300 A.D.
Somewhere down the line, the day meant to honor the two became confused with the ancient Roman holiday known as Lupercalia, which was also celebrated on the 14 of February as a pagan holiday.
Often, the pagan rituals involved an animal sacrifice, drunken men drawing the names of women from jars to pursue as mates and women getting whipped with the sacrificial animal hide.
The women themselves lined up for the latter ritual, which was performed by the drunken men and thought to boost fertility.
When Pope Gelasius later tried to eradicate the pagan tradition by proposing that a self-titled Galatin’s Day would replace it, people must have somehow confused ‘Galatin’ with ‘Valentine’ due to their sounding similar.
As far as how love and romance became involved in the equation, ‘Galatin’ also means “woman-lover,” which is why some believe Valentine’s Day is still a love-centric holiday.
Stores like Walmart, CVS and Walgreen’s have a woman-loving Pope from the 5th century to thank for their exorbitant February sales.
In 2014 alone, it was estimated to contribute $17.3 billion to the U.S. economy based only on Valentine’s Day sales, according to Retail Federation.
Each year, the economy sees an increase in spending on Valentine’s Day-related gifts and vacations.
Big corporations may be making suckers out of the hopeless romantics around the country but the same could be said of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or any other day that necessitates a cliché card.
The reason Valentine’s Day is here to stay is not because of companies like Hallmark, but because of amorous consumers who keep these businesses in business.
Maybe love really does make the world go ‘round.