This Week's Poll


Cupid Still At Larg ~ Reportedly Armed With Arrows

By Jeffry Boatright

Courtesy Photo: Vintage Valentine

In just a few days, people all around the world will observe St. Valentine’s Day, the celebrated day of romance and love. This special day, which is February 14, is neither a national holiday nor is it known for distant travel and long-lived family traditions like Thanksgiving or Christmas are. It is, however, a significant day for our national and local economy.

Children of all ages will report to school with a collection of Valentine’s Day cards to share with their peers and a few lucky teachers. It is an exciting day when crushes are often confirmed and friendly gestures of amicable affection are shown. Sweethearts across the world are certain to receive flowers, candy and other gifts as Cupid darts about with his legendary bow.

While some might perceive St. Valentine’s Day as a well-planned creation of greeting card companies, the modern holiday is rooted deeply into the history of our world. Certain industries have, however, capitalized on the celebrated day that has evolved over the centuries.

It is widely understood that the beloved day pays homage to its namesake, Saint Valentine of Rome. Although various accounts are given of the circumstances surrounding St. Valentine’s death, perhaps the most popular revolves around the Christian martyr’s defiance of Roman Emperor Claudius II. Legend tells us that recruiting new soldiers had become a challenge for Claudius because young men were reluctant to leave their wives and families behind. To remedy this dilemma, Claudius issued a decree that would cancel engagements and prevent subsequent marriages from taking place.

Valentine, who apparently valued the sanctity of marriage, followed his heart and defied Claudius’s decree. We are told that the priest secretly performed wedding ceremonies until he was caught and jailed. It is said that while imprisoned, Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. Legend asserts that the jailer’s daughter frequently visited the condemned priest and his final letter to her was signed, “your Valentine.”

Ultimately, Valentine was beheaded on Feb. 14, around 278 A.D. After his death, the late priest was elevated to sainthood, and Pope Gelasius declared Feb. 14 as St. Valentine’s Day about two centuries later. It is believed that Gelasius’s declaration was to end the pagan custom of Lupercalia, which was an ancient Roman celebration of fertility.

The festival of Lupercalia, which began on Feb. 15, honored Roman gods. Lupercalia also held interesting customs that might appear familiar in today’s light-hearted Valentine’s Day festivities. One such custom required young men to draw the name of a girl from a jar, and the two were paired for a year. It is said that the young couples would often fall in love and later marry.

The romantic day of celebration has survived the tests of time and people of all ages around the world continue to celebrate Valentine’s Day. For some, it is simply a card while others might be more extravagant with gifts ranging from chocolate to expensive diamonds.

With over 140 million greeting cards sold each year, Valentine’s Day holds the second spot for the number of greeting cards sold. Christmas easily maintains the top spot with Mother’s Day nestled in a close third place. Incidentally, the oldest known valentine card in existence is in England, and it is over 500 years old.

Considering the number of greeting cards sold, Valentine’s Day certainly generates revenue for card manufacturers and retailers, but we must also consider the dollars spent annually on Valentine’s Day candy and flowers. Statistics indicate that about 53 percent of Americans will make Valentine’s Day-related purchases this year, spending around 30 billion dollars on Valentine’s Day this year.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16.1 billion dollars was spent on chocolate and confectionary products for Valentine’s Day in 2018. Non-chocolate confectionery products accounted for 10.7 billion dollars spending and 6.5 billion dollars was spent on jewelry for Valentine’s Day.

While Valentine’s Day is helpful in bolstering our economy on a national scale, there is an economic opportunity on the local level as well. The long-lived day of celebration is a great opportunity to support local businesses when purchasing candy, flowers and jewelry. Of course, it will also be the perfect opportunity to treat that significant other to a romantic dinner out.

Certainly, we associate Valentine’s Day with romance, but it has evolved into a day that people might simply reaffirm plutonic relationships. That is not to say, however, that Cupid won’t roam about with his mythical bow and arrows. Cupid, the mischievous little angel, is the legendary son of Venus, and according to Greek mythology, Venus is the goddess of love. Greek mythology further asserts that anyone who is shot by one of Cupid’s arrows will not die as a result of the arrow, but the individual will certainly fall in love.