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Surviving Valentine’s Day

According to a recent survey on Valentine’s Day shopping habits, men spend twice as much money buying Valentine’s Day gifts than women do, but men get their shopping in one-third the time. That says two things about the difference between men and women.

It says guys have a keen desire to express their commitment to the relationship based on buying hugely overpriced chocolates because they come in heart-shaped, red boxes that can be bought anywhere in under two minutes.

Women, on the other hand, want to find the perfect gift and card that expresses their love. Time is no object for women. They’ll take all day to find the perfect Valentine’s Day surprise, even while their special fellow is sitting out in the car wondering what’s taking her so long.

Easy shopping

For guys, Valentine’s Day is an easier shopping experience than selecting Christmas gifts. Christmas you got a mall of stuff to chose from. Valentine’s Day you have candy, cards, flowers and expensive jewelry. A guy can get all his shopping done in five minutes with a Visa card.

Unlike Christmas shopping where everything gets cheaper the closer it gets to Dec. 25, Valentine’s Day gifts stay expensive up to the big day. That’s because guys usually forget Valentine’s Day is coming despite the barrage of Valentine’s Day ads that say, “Valentine’s Day is coming. It’s almost here. Buy something now. Oops, too late.”

Stores understand this, so that’s why Valentine costs don’t drop until after the holiday.

It’s a $20 billion day

I did a little research on Valentine’s Day, and here’s some interesting information on the holiday. First of all, Americans last year spent almost $20 billion on Valentine gifts, dining and other things, according to market in an article on Valentine’s Day stats.

Of the $20 billion, $1.7 billion is spent on candy for Valentine’s Day, translating to more than 58 million pounds of candy. What’s really interesting is a recent survey on what women want for Valentine’s Day found that only 1 percent of women surveyed want to get candy.

The top choice for the perfect Valentine’s gift for ladies last year was a romantic dinner. Flowers came in second, and jewelry came in third with over $2.2 billion in trinkets purchased.

A lot of that jewelry is being given as engagement rings as about 220,000 wedding proposals occur on this day, according to a Time Newsfeed story. Plus, lovers spend $1.9 billion for flowers on Valentine’s Day, according to

Historical stuff

Valentine cards were first produced in this country by New Englander Esther Howland back in 1789. She sold $5,000 worth of the one-penny cards the first year. Greeting card manufacturers now sell about $1 billion worth of Valentine’s Day cards each year.

There are a number of ideas of how Valentine’s Day and the heart and arrow symbols came about. One legend contends that Valentine’s Day started in Roman times when Emperor Claudius II prohibited young men of military age from getting married because he thought it made them better warriors. A Catholic priest named Valentine — an old romantic — kept performing marriages in secret until he was caught and killed with an arrow through his heart on Feb. 14.

That sounds more interesting than the other legend that Valentine’s Day comes from the ancient Roman holiday called Lupercalia Day where Roman men killed goats then — totally naked — and splashed the blood on young women with the belief it made them fertile.

Luckily for us, that Valentine’s Day custom never caught on.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone.

— Myron Kukla

Myron Kukla is a Midwest writer based in Holland, Michigan, Tulip capital of the world. He is the author of several books of humor including Guide to Surviving Life: A 3,487-step Guide to Self-Improvement and Confessions of a Baby Boomer available at Email him at

Reflections of Erma