A Brief History of Valentine’s Day

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007 by benjamin

Valentine's Day Candy

Oh, Valentine’s Day. If you’re a romantic, the phrase brings up heartwarming thoughts of love, togetherness, roses, flowers and chocolates. If you’re a cynic, you probably think that Valentine’s Day is a huge scam constructed by the diamond, greeting card, flower and candy companies to make women expect presents from their men.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle. British settlers brought the holiday over from Europe in the 19th century, and the first mass-produced valentines (made of embossed paper lace) were produced and sold in 1848 by Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts. She was inspired by a British card she’d received. This tradition evolved into the exchange of gifts, flowers, candy and cards. In the 1980s the diamond industry was successfully able to associate its product with the holiday as well. Currently, over 1 billion Valentine cards and over 50 million roses are sent in the U.S each year for Valentine’s Day.

So what’s the iconic candy of Valentine’s Day? The obvious first choice would be Conversation Hearts. NECCO has been producing these little boxes of chalky love since the civil war, and NECCO must produce about 100,000 pounds of the candy hearts every day in order to meet the demands of the Valentine season, when about 8 billion hearts are sold in six weeks. Feel the need to surprise that special someone a custom-written Conversation Heart? It’s totally doable… that is, as long as you don’t mind purchasing an entire production run of them. That’s 1.7 million ways to say I love you! What could be better than that?

In the end, Valentine’s Day is an excuse to appreciate and pamper those you love. So cynics, buck up and do something nice. Make your beloved a romantic card, buy her a box of chocolates, and just bask in the love. And if you don’t have a special someone, who cares? Get your friends together, eat some ice cream and Thin Mints, and have a Singles’ Awareness Day where you talk about how much you totally don’t need a date. Sometimes, that can be more fun than the traditional Valentine’s dinner date!

But however you choose to celebrate the holiday, I hope you have fun, keep warm, and stay sweet!

~Janet

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