And this day is supposedly special, made for sad, love-struck nit-twits like one Joel Barish: “Random thoughts for Valentine’s Day, 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies. To make people feel like crap.”
Not much has changed in 10 years.
(Illustration found here).
This particular day — Valentine’s Day 2014 — is what Joel says — via NPR yesterday:
From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia.
The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.
The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
“Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them,” Lenski says.
“They believed this would make them fertile.”
The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar.
The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.
The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love.
Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D.
Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.
Eventually, the tradition made its way to the New World.
The industrial revolution ushered in factory-made cards in the 19th century.
And in 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo., began mass producing valentines.
February has not been the same since.
Today, the holiday is big business: According to market research firm IBIS World, Valentine’s Day sales reached $17.6 billion last year; this year’s sales are expected to total $18.6 billion.
A shitload of money in the name of postcard love.
And price gouging, too — from the San Francisco Chronicle, and rose importer Jon Gomez:
Not only does the wholesale price jump in mid-February, he said, but a red rose gets bumped up an extra 25 percent over the price of similar roses of other colors.
In a normal week, Gomez might move 100 rose boxes, each with 250 stems.
(In the trade, a flower is called a stem, freeing all parties from sentiment.)
But during Valentine’s week, he moves 600 boxes.
Rose brokers who sell to traditional florists warn ardent young lovers against the bargain online rose.
That $19.95 bunch of roses touted on the radio and Internet, Gomez said, is going to break hearts – and not in a good way.
“At that price, you’re going to get crap,” Gomez said.
“Small flowers. Flowers on their last day. Flowers that have been sitting around too long. There is a tremendous amount of junk flowers on the market. You have to be careful out there.”
And this tip from flower mart marketing director Jeanne Boes: “Younger women want something besides what Mom and Grandma got for Valentine’s Day,” she said. “And the poor men, they just buy roses because they think women expect roses. Not all women do. We’re all different.”
Dude, you’re on your own.
I’m too old, and besides, I’ve been married twice — so I understand pain.
And feeling like crap.