Valentine’s Day is one of the few national holidays that isn’t a national holiday, like say Lincoln’s Birthday or George Washington’s birthday. Remember those holidays, before someone got efficient and combined celebrating them and all presidents as President’s Day?
Oops, they weren’t national holidays either. They were state holidays.
But there is, for example, a lot of agreement on the importance of Lincoln and Washington. For example, both have a lot of cities, counties, and streets named after them. And the Lincoln car.
Car dealers don’t want to sell a car named after “Washington”. With that name how could they, in good conscience, rip off their customers? It’s hard enough selling a car named after Honest Abe.
Valentine, as a name, is very popular, too, although not as a destination. (Valentine, Nebraska?).
It’s popular for Italians, especially Italian Americans. For example, there’s Valentino Rossi, the motorcycle legend, and Rodolfo Pietro Filiberto Raffaello Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguolla, better known as Rudolf Valentino, the world famous 1920’s Hollywood lover.
Actually, a number of men named Valentine are credited with inspiring Valentine’s Day, all religious types, of course.
One Valentine was a priest in Rome in the year AD 269. Valentine of Terni became a bishop, and martyred in AD273. And I don’t know when, but another Valentine was martyred in Africa a few millennia later. I guess it went with the name.
One of the most famous Valentines encouraged Roman soldiers and their lovers to marry, despite Emperor Claudius II forbidding it. The last thing Claudiius needed was lovesick and spent solders. They had wars to fight and people to enslave. So he had Valentine beheaded.
Valentine wasn’t a fighter. Legend has it that while in jail before the beheading, he cut heart shapes out of parchment and gave them to some of the lovers. I guess that contributed to his becoming a Saint.
Like all of the old Valentines, none of this is really provable through history tomes, which is why the Catholic Church won’t designate Feb 14th as a religious holiday. (Of course, knowing what lovers do on Valentines Day and how strict the Church is about being married first and consummating second, I doubt verifying popular lore was the only reason).
But the lack of an official holiday, religious or secular, hasn’t stopped the popularity of February 14th. Smitten boys and girls, lusty men and women, as well as old farts short on hormones, we love sending symbols of love to each other on that cherished day.
According to The CandyStore.com, 58 million pounds of chocolate are bought in the seven days leading up to Feb.14. In 2020 the National Retail Foundation estimated Americans shelled out $27.4 billion for Valentine’s Day, an average of $196 per person.
No, I will not tell you what I spent. (I don’t want you to feel bad).
I don’t have statistics on how much Americans spend on Presidents Day. But I’ll bet it doesn’t come close to what we spend on Valentines Day.
Which is another way of saying we seem to value love more than presidents.
Which is pretty cool, don’t you think?