Today is Valentine’s Day and many people, including my husband, like to mock it for being a Hallmark holiday. Despite Hallmark having one of it’s most profitable days around this holiday, they did not invent the holiday. There is a lot of history to Valentine’s Day and not all of it is hearts and roses.
What are Hallmark Holidays?
Before I dive deep into the dark history of V-day, I’d like to briefly talk about Hallmark holidays.
“Holidays that have been referred to as “Hallmark holidays” include Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents Day, National Son’s Day, National Daughter’s Day, Sweetest Day, Boss’s Day, Administrative Professionals’ Day, Teacher Appreciation Day, International Women’s Day, and International Men’s Day.”Wikipedia
I found a particularly angry website, Fluid, that brought up all the statistics as well as the ‘murder’ of roses associated with Valentine’s Day. Here’s what it says:
“If you search on Hallmark’s website hard enough, you can find a few mind-staggering statistics about Valentine’s Day.
- Approximately 131 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged, making it the second largest holiday for greeting cards.
- Hallmark first started offering Valentine’s Day cards in 1913.
- According to the National Retail Federation, the average person celebrating Valentine’s Day spent nearly $142. (I hope my wife doesn’t see this.)
Not Just Hallmark
Hallmark isn’t the only brand preying on people for their own financial gain. CNN estimated that 224 million roses are murdered each year while $1.6m will be spent on candy. Here are a few more interesting statistics mentioned in the article:
- 51% of people buy red roses.
- 64% of people who purchase flowers are men.
- $4.4 billion will be spent on diamonds, gold and silver.
- $18.6 billion in total spending will be reach this Valentine’s Day.
Fine. Hallmark didn’t actually invent Valentine’s Day. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t guilty of taking advantage of easily swayed consumers.”
Hallmark DID NOT Invent V-Day
At the very end of all that you see them confess that Hallmark did NOT invent the holiday. As much as I agree that we live in a culture that’s all about consumerism, I don’t understand all the hate here. In fact, Fluid is a company that sells its services. So this hate on Hallmark article is actually their way to get customers? Well isn’t that hypocritical. Anyway…
The History of V-Day
There are some different opinions on what the true history of this holiday is. I have always written about St. Valentine. There isn’t a lot of clear information about the man who was arrested and imprisoned.
Some believe that he was caught marrying Christian couples during a time when helping Christians was considered a crime. Others say that he defied the emperor’s orders and secretly married couples to spare the husbands from war.
According to yet another legend, St. Valentine signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter. After being imprisoned he befriended the daughter of his jailer and supposedly healed her from blindness. So there’s a lot of confusion but basically, this guy seemed like he was pretty wholesome.
Roman Valentine’s Day
Every year I read more about this holiday and this year I stumbled upon an NPR article from 2011. It was horrible… consider skipping this if you are squeamish. You have been warned.
According to Arnie Seipel and the NPR article, Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia from February 13th until the 15th. The feast involved sacrificing a goat and a dog and whipping women with the hides of the freshly-slain animals.
A historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Neol Lenski said that the Romans were drunk and naked during these ‘rituals.’ Young women would supposedly line up for them men to hit them because they believed that it would make them fertile.
As crazy as it sounds… there is still a similar Easter tradition in the Czech Republic. Although instead of dead animals, they use pussy willow sticks.
Summary: Valentine’s Day
Wether or not you enjoy the modern celebration of Valentine’s Day that involves gifts, chocolate and love, it is important to look back at the history. Sometimes we get so caught up with our traditions that we don’t think about where they came from.
Consider having a chat about Saint Valentine or the more gruesome Roman traditions on this day. But also, don’t hesitate to shower your loved one with gifts if you are inclined to do so! There is no wrong way to show your love. Be it with Hallmark cards, romantic gestures or handmade gifts. It’s not just about the money spent, because love cannot be bought!