By DENISE HERSCHEL
Each year on Feb. 14, people exchange cards, candy, gifts or flowers with their special “valentine.”
Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, originated as a Christian feast day, honoring a martyr named Valentine. And through later folk traditions, it has become a significant cultural, religious and commercial celebration of romance and love in many areas of the world.
Although not much is known about the real history of the Saint Valentine on whom the holiday is based, the legend of Saint Valentine has several tellings. One of the most popular Legends says that Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who performed weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry, because of a Roman emperor’s edict decreeing married soldiers did not make good warriors and therefore young men would not marry. This Saint Valentine wore a ring with a Cupid on it, a symbol of love, that helped soldiers recognize him. And, in a precursor to greeting cards, he handed out paper hearts to remind Christians of their love for God.
But no matter what your reason for celebrating the holiday of love, Valentine’s Day has been a religious celebration, an ancient ritual day or a commercial holiday. All that means IS that the day can be whatever you want it to be; a day to buy yourself chocolate or flowers, express love and appreciation for the people in your life, or a day to skip completely.
Jane Stuckey of Ocean Township said that Valentine’s Day is just another day to her. She is not in a relationship at the moment, so she has no one to buy gifts for this year. Which is fine with her.
“I have been married twice and did the whole Valentine’s Day thing. I am over it at this point. If I want to buy something I will buy myself a box of good chocolates,” she said. “My real Valentines are my kids. Unconditional love with no expectations.”
Joy Franco of Ocean Grove said that Valentine’s Day is one of her favorite holidays.
“I like the simplicity of it. Give a box of chocolates, a card or a small gift. It’s a day to show your love and appreciation for someone,” she said.
Bryan Kuntz of Asbury Park said that Valentine’s Day is generally a holiday for women. He finds that most men wait until the last minute to buy a card or a gift.
“I am guilty of procrastinating. I think I have more time and before I know it, the next day is Valentine’s Day. I am flying solo this year so no celebration for me. At least I will save some money,” he laughed.
And for those interested in learning more about Valentine’s Day here are a few fun facts –
The average Valentine’s Day gift giver spends nearly $200 on gifts and goodies.
More than 250 million roses are produced for Valentine’s Day with red roses making up two-thirds of that number.
The color red and the heart shaped first started showing up in medieval art during the 14th and 15th centuries.