Is Valentine’s Day Really About Your Valentine?

 Here we are again—Valentine’s Day. The annual celebration of….what? The whole idea of Valentine’s Day was the musing of Geoffrey Chaucer, a 14th-century English writer who made an obscure reference to birds mating in February. He later on called it “the feast of the Saint Valentine”, who was in fact a priest beheaded by a Roman Emperor, not some legendary lover or ladies’ man. Next thing you know, European aristocrats are sending love notes in February, and Valentine’s day becomes a thing. Not quite the romantic beginning you have imagined for a 1000-year-old international festival of pain and embarrassment and chocolate overindulgence. 

     The pain and embarrassment stories are legendary. The internet is filled with tales of people having their bubbles spectacularly burst on February 14th by some loser or serial philanderer who turns out to be double or triple dating. Or in some cases, the few who turn up from dinner with their wives- to meet their valentines. Seriously, it’s not “Sleepless in Seattle” or “An Affair to Remember” out there on February 14th. 

     One particularly awful story is a Valentine’s Day disaster where the young Romeo bought a five-pound box of imported chocolates for his intended sweetheart, who then agreed to go out to dinner with him. She left the chocolates behind in her condo when she went for dinner and returned to find her dog had eaten the entire box of chocolates and was dead from chocolate poisoning. That relationship died almost as quickly as the dog did.

     The dog wasn’t the only one to down Valentine’s Day chocolate. Last year in the US, we consumed over 58 million pounds of chocolate in just the first half of February. That is enough chocolate to fill 40,000 full-size pickup trucks to capacity. If you lined those trucks up end-to-end, that would take you from Walnut Creek to Sacramento and back. How did we get from the mating season for birds to 58 million pounds of chocolate consumed in two weeks? Maybe Valentine’s Day is all about hearts for heart attacks and not romance. 

     There is no doubt that Valentine’s Day has caught the imagination of the most creative and brilliant marketing brains of our time. Cadburys, Hershey, and even Tiffany’s can vouch for that. But wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the day when hopeful suitors actually put pen to paper and hand-wrote something original and personal to the person they wanted to be with instead of the obligatory red roses and cheesy cards?

     Ahh… never mind. Chocolate and Tiffany’s will do fine.