Are You Doing Valentine’s Day Right?

w-rosesValentine’s Day originated as a celebration of fertility. St. Valentine’s Day, as the holiday is recognized in Christian and Roman traditions, has many origin stories. For a holiday that is supposed to be filled with love and devotion, it’s back story is quite dark.

Who Is Valentine?

Valentine is many people in the Christian community. While no one is sure of how the tradition truly began, all of the stories emphasize a martyr who was characterized by his sympathetic and romantic gestures towards others. The most popular legends revolve around a man named Valentine, who was a priest that fought for the injustice of the decree that young men could not get married. In a similar story, Valentine was beheaded for performing miracles and spreading Christian teachings. In this story, Valentine is imprisoned before his execution, where it is rumored he cured his jailor’s daughter of her blindness. Before his untimely death, Valentine left her a note signed “From Your Valentine.” This is said to be the first Valentine’s Day card ever sent. 

In another legend, Valentine was said to have been a bishop that took to marrying young people. In the time of Emperor Claudius, young men were forbid to marry because he felt that married men were weaker in battle. Valentine took to marrying couples in secret, for which he was burned at the stake.

The Pagan History

The day itself has been widely recognized as the Pagan festival dedicated to Faunus, the god of agriculture. As a Pagan holiday, it was celebrated on February 15th. Celebrations were held in honor of this god to bring fertility to the women in the community and the land upon which the community was built. Eligible bachelors chose women at random to escort them to the festival, whom they often ended up marrying. When the Christian community adopted the holiday, they designated February 14th as a saint day to honor those Christian martyrs with the name Valentine.

Valentine’s Day Celebrations Throughout History

Sending a Valentine’s greeting dates as far back as the middle ages. In 1415, prisoner Charles, who was the Duke of Orleans at the time, composed a poem for his wife during his imprisonment. Handmade cards became a thing of the past in 1840 when cards began being manufactured. In 1862, more than 21,000 Valentine’s Day cards were delivered throughout New York City. Exchanging gifts became popular in the early 19th century, when cards designed with hearts, bows, and arrows were given out accompanied by candy.

Modern Valentine’s Day Traditions

Vday SurveyWilliam Penn Inn surveyed over 400 people on how they celebrate Valentine’s Day, and more importantly, what they expect on Valentine’s Day. The holiday has been commercialized as a Hallmark Holiday – yet more than 70% of the people we surveyed continue to celebrate it.

Most people expect nothing at all on Valentine’s Day, claiming that love and devotion should be demonstrated on every day of the year. 72% of those who do expect a gift want a card or dinner as a token of love. Still others expect flowers, candy, gifts, jewelry, or an overnight trip as a Valentine’s Day present.

Of the people who expect dinner on Valentine’s Day, almost 100% prefer to be taken out. On average, people celebrating Valentine’s Day with dinner spent between $51-$100 dollars, followed closely by  those on a budget of $50 or less. 17% spent $101-$200, 5% spent $201-$500, and then there are those members of the 1% that spend over $500 on Valentine’s Day dinner.

Vday Survey Gift Trends

Eating at a restaurant reigned supreme, second to cooking your own meal and ordering takeout. Many people enjoy the romantic atmosphere restaurants are able to create on Valentine’s Day, which typically include decorative table cloths, candlelight, and dinner, drink, or dessert specials.

Vday Survey Dinner Trends

A fine dining establishment in Montgomery County, PA, the William Penn Inn pulls out all of the stops when it comes to a romantic Valentine’s Day meal. On February 14th, they offer a gourmet buffet dinner as well as an a la carte sit-down dinner menu for lovers in the area. Reservations are recommended!

Supplemental Facts:

  • 52% of those surveyed identify as female, 48% male
  • 63% of those surveyed were between the ages of 30-59.
  • 35% of those surveyed earned between $50,000 and $100,000 last year.
  • A majority of survey takers are married and have been so for over 5 years.

Supplemental Sources:

  • http://www.history.com/topics/ valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day
  • http://inventors.about.com/od/articlesandresources/a/Valentine_Day.htm
  • http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/590922/Valentine-s-Day–Through-the-ages.html?nav=5006
  • http://www.stvalentinesday.org/traditions-and-customs.html