Although there were several Christian martyrs named, “Valentine,” most historians seem to agree the Valentine’s Day holiday was most likely named for one particular priest who was killed around AD 270 by Claudius II Gothicus. Encyclopedia Britannica reports that, according to legend, the priest had befriended and fallen in love with his jailer’s daughter. Before he died, he scribed a note to the woman which read, “From your Valentine.” Romantic, huh?
Our modern St.Valentine’s Day holiday also has origins related to the Roman holiday, Lupercalia, which celebrated the coming of spring with fertility rights and the pairing of couples by lottery. Sometime in the 5th Century, however, the sitting pope replaced the holiday with St. Valentine’s Day, the rest is history, even if it is a little distorted.
Valentine’s Day here in America, however, could be interpreted by the cynical as anything but romantic. Over time, the holiday has evolved, like many others, into an annual worship of cash; a windfall for retailers selling flowers, jewelry, greeting cards and candy. Although reports show that consumers seem to be spending less every February, last year people shelled out nearly $19 billion, with more than $4 billion of that going towards jewelry.
With all of the options out there, people still struggle, mostly the guys I think, to come up with a unique gift or activity. It can be tricky to do just the right thing, and if you did it last year, it’s possible you may have set the bar a bit too high and now you’re going to have to clear it.
In 2013, a woman in Kansas even donated a kidney to her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. What could she possibly do to top that? In any case, speaking generally, it’s probably accurate to say that it’s tougher to buy for a woman than for a man.
Just like at Christmas, it’s probably best not to wait until the last minute. A little pre-planning could save you a trip to Walgreen’s, followed immediately a night in the dog house. So, for all the guys out there stuck for an idea, read on and maybe something will come to you. First, start by simply paying attention.
For example, does your significant other make a point to leave a Jared Jewelers catalog in the bathroom as convenient reading material? Maybe, and I’m just guessing here, she’d like some jewelry. Get it?
What about her favorite food or restaurant? How about a preferred local band or event venue? A nice dinner and a night out can be enjoyed by both of you and create a happy memory you can share for a lifetime.
For those fellows opening your wallets to a waft of dust and a moth infestation, remember, it doesn’t have to cost a lot to do something nice. In fact, sometimes the only payment is a little effort.
Unless your wife or girlfriend is hopelessly high-maintenance or materialistic a helpful gesture might well make more of an impression than any useless trinket. But you’ll have to knock it out of the park on your first swing.
These days we all have busy lives. Between work, kids, household chores and family there just aren’t enough hours in the day. It is always appreciated when someone takes some task off of our plate, and she will too. You could help with her daily housework or clean out her car for work, anything that might make her day easier. If you have kids at home, there are ways to include them in your Valentine’s Day plans too.
Babysitters are expensive and breaking free from the kids on Valentine’s Day can be tough. So, include them. How about family game night? Board games, a pizza, some ice cream for desert and you handle all the preparations. Give her a stress-free night off while still being able to enjoy the day together with the family. It might not be dinner in Paris, but it’ll leave a fun memory and lasting impression.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at gerydeer.com.