• When we were first dating, I told my husband that he better not buy me that silk-covered red heart-shaped box of chocolates and overpay for roses that have been marked up for the week of Valentine’s day. I told him he would lose points for lack of creativity and following the scripted behavior of the American male on Valentine’s Day. I also said that if I ever start insisting that he buy me flowers, jewelry, or chocolate for V-day – then there is a problem in our relationship and he should book reservations with a therapist and not a restaurant. Asking for these expressions of his love on one day of the year would mean that I wasn’t feeling appreciated enough the other 364 days.

    Most people don’t realize that Valentine’s Day is a Christian holiday which has been celebrated for several centuries. Some think that because of the Hallmark-like qualities of the holiday that this is a more recent holiday with a fairly recent addition of writing cards. But it isn’t – this holiday has been around a very long time, with the first known valentine poem from the 14th century. There are varying traditions and folklore surrounding this holiday, varying from country to country. Most agreeing that the idea and expression of love is the focal point of the holiday. Did you know that Shakespeare wrote about St. Valentines Day? In the Middle Ages, love letters called Valentines were written. Ha! So it wasn’t devised by a Hallmark executive as a way to sell more cards?! Today, most cultural habits of this holiday can vary from country to country with the unifying theme of gift giving as an expression of love.

    I told my husband that the best gift he gives me is making our bed in the morning while I am scrambling to get kids ready for school. When I walk into our room to breastfeed our newborn at 8am, and see a perfectly-made bed, my lifeboat in the sea of child-led chaos that has become our home, I am moved. Better than any card or heart-boxed chocolates. Valentine’s Day should be a reminder to us all that, every day should be spent treating each other and appreciating each other through small (but hugely impactful) gestures of love.

    Below are some statistics about Valentine’s Day spending. From my experience with the Valentine’s Day candy distributed at school, I think there should be a section illustrating how much is spent on candy alone (It feels like Halloween in red, pink and white). Looking at these statistics below, the one I find most concerning is the last point about a relationships survival dependent upon receiving a present. Remember there are many ways to love one another and gift-giving isn’t the only way to express that.  However you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, might I suggest you add an additional gesture? Sit down and write a list of all the reasons you love your spouse and children. Share your sentiments with your loved ones. It is free and involves more thought than purchasing the prescribed chocolate, pre-written cards and overpriced flowers.

    • $13.19 Billion: Average annual Valentine’s Day spending

    • 180 Million: Number of Valentine’s Day cards exchanged annually

    • 196 million: Average number of roses produced for Valentine’s Day

    • 85%: Percent of Valentine’s Day cards bought by women

    • 73%: Percent of flowers bought by men

    • $116: Amount the average consumer spends on Valentine’s Day

    • 62%: Percent of consumers who celebrate Valentine’s Day

    • 53%: Percent of women who would end their relationship if they didn’t get something for Valentine’s Day.

    ** Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey (2014)