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Valentine’s Day 2017: A brief history of love

Valentine’s Day 2017 is just around the corner. Considered by many the most romantic day of the year, criticized by others for commercializing what is supposed to be the purest and most genuine human feeling – love.

No matter which side you are on, it cannot be denied that the holiday has a tremendous impact on culture and society. How did it all begin, though?

The history of Valentine’s Day

The origin is still a bit unclear. The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints bearing the name Valentine or Valentinus, all of them martyrs.

One of the legends mentions Valentine as a third-century priest in Rome that continued to perform secret marriages under a decree of Emperor Claudius II that had banned marriages for your soldiers. The emperor considered single men to be better soldiers, so Valentine was sentenced to death, once his actions were uncovered.

Other legends suggest that an imprisoned Valentine sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after falling in love with a girl who was visiting him during his time in prison. It is said that before dying, he wrote her a letter that he signed with the now familiar expression “from your Valentine”.

There are various theories on why Valentine’s Day is celebrated in February. While some support the idea that the middle of February was when Valentine either died or was buried, some claim that it was all an attempt for the Christian church to modify a pagan celebration called Lupercalia.

Lupercalia was an event that took place on February 15 and celebrated Faunus, the god of agriculture, as well as the founders of Rome – Romulus and Remus. Among various sacrifice rituals, the celebration also included the pairing of young women in the city with the city’s bachelors, that often ended in marriage.

How much do Americans spend on Valentine’s Day?

Romanticism turned into a real business in the United States, with Valentine’s Day being celebrated by more than half of the American, with 54,8% of them doing something special on February 14, according to Fundivo.

The holiday is by no means cheap. In 2016, Americans spent $19,7bn on gifts and activities related to Valentine’s Day, compared to 2015’s $18,9bn. The general trend has been upward since 2004, with only 2009 and 2010 being the years with the lowest sales – $14,67bn and $14,13bn, respectively.

Valentine's day 2017

This trend has been visible since 2004, and makes the average man spend almost twice as much as a woman with this romantic holiday.

As far as age groups are concerned, it seems that people aged between 25 and 34 are the ones spending most money showing their love on this special day – an average of $234 in 2016. The elderly seem to be more on the saving up side, with people aged over 55 spending an average of only $95 in 2016.

No matter whether you will celebrate Valentine’s Day 2017 or not, it is important to show your loved one what they mean to you as often as possible, as this will help you keep a healthy, satisfying relationship. After all, the year has another 364 days in which we can declare our love, doesn’t it?

Lydia Peirce