Whether you’re for or against Valentine’s Day celebrations, nearly everyone can agree on chocolate being a good choice for anytime treats.
You’re facing a dilemma: Your significant other has been waiting patiently for you to schedule that important Valentine’s Day dinner reservation for the past few weeks, but all you can think about is the countdown until the season 2 premiere of “House of Cards” on Netflix.
Whether your mind is set on Feb. 14 consisting of a binge-watching session with your couch or a romantic night out, there are a few things to know about Valentine’s Day before you make a final decision on celebrating the most popular “Hallmark holiday” of the year:
- It doesn’t have a clear history
Many people will try to tell you their version of the history of Valentine’s Day. Maybe you learned it in school, or from Internet searches as you got older. According to History.com, there are multiple origins of the holiday. “The history of Valentine’s Day — and the story of its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery,” the website reads.
“We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.” St. Valentine, before his death, allegedly wrote the first valentine greeting while he was imprisoned to a girl he fell in love with, possibly the jailor’s daughter, signing it, “From your Valentine.” You can read more about the various historical aspects of the day and its symbols at history.com/topics/valentines-day.
- Cards are the most popular gift
Valentine’s Day is a cash cow: Total spending by Americans is expected to reach $18.6 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Sure, you can always go with flowers, chocolates and jewelry, but take it back old-school — when you exchanged valentines as a kid — and craft some cards or little notes.
Valentines have been around since the 1700s. According to the Greeting Card Association, about 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are purchased each year (not including classroom valentines) — second behind Christmas, of course, for which 1.6 billion units are purchased, including boxed card sets.
For those who want to go the extra step and give a gift, engraved jewelry and red roses are popular options. If you want to be different, switch it up with another type of flower or plant, like an orchid, or pick from unique handmade items on Etsy or other boutique shops in town. You also could buy a food class to please the foodie (and you, in turn) at home, or a spa day for those who enjoy being pampered.
- It’s not just for people in relationships — or women
About 85 percent of all valentines — and 80 percent of all greeting cards in general — are purchased by women, the Greeting Card Association reports. While it can be a very female-focused holiday, Valentine’s Day isn’t just for the ladies or people in relationships.
Many people enjoy chocolate or other baked goods and homemade treats, and more people are giving Valentine’s Day gifts each year as just a way to say “thank you.”
Brandpoint reports that a survey commissioned by Rich Products, a provider to foodservice, in-store bakery and retail marketplaces, shows that 44 percent of people purchase gifts for more than one person on the holiday, with friends at the top of the list.
- Wait to shop until after Valentine’s Day
Head spinning — or wallet hurting — from all those gift ideas? It’s OK to take a break, spend the holiday with your loved one and surprise them with a post-Valentine’s Day gift. According to a Valentine’s Day survey by Offers.com, flowers are the gift most people plan to purchase this year (32 percent), followed by candy or chocolate (26 percent), jewelry (13 percent), lingerie (9 percent) and gift baskets (6 percent).
But you’ll save a ton by waiting to shop until after the sales hit. Shopping late, especially for jewelry, is becoming a trend. Offers.com reports that in 2013, the biggest day for in-store purchases was two days after Valentine’s Day, while the majority of online shopping occurred Feb. 13.
- You can choose not to recognize it, guilt-free
When it comes down to it, you have to ask yourself if the idea of Valentine’s Day fits your personality. You can be a romantic, but not into celebrating. Plenty of couples tout that “every day is Valentine’s Day” to them, and don’t make a big deal out of the holiday when it approaches each year.
And much like the girls’ nights, Valentine’s Day parties and other social mixers you’ll find locally for singles, there are sometimes anti-Valentine’s Day parties out there, too. Check your local library or recreation center for a listing of activities — or just sit back on the couch and catch up with your favorite TV characters.