St. Valentine’s Day began as a celebration of perhaps more than one Christian saint called Valentinus. But as with a lot of celebrations, including Easter and Christmas, the day only began to take on its modern form with the onset of mass production and consumption. Valentines cards became popular enough in England and the U.S. to be produced in factories in the early- to mid-nineteenth century. By 1849 a writer could observe, “Saint Valentine’s Day… is becoming, nay it has become, a national holyday.”
Consumerist logic has led to widespread celebrations of versions of Valentine’s Day in China, South Korea and Japan
Whether Valentine’s Day is an annual pinnacle of romantic love or a cynical marketing ploy to make us spend more on chocolates, flowers and meals, here are some timely facts:
- Some 190 million valentines are sent in the U.S. every year.
- An estimated 15 million e-valentines were sent in 2010.
- The first Valentine’s Day box of chocolates dates to the late 1800s.
- According to one estimate, 15 percent of American women sent themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day.