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Ponderings – Not just another Hallmark Holiday

250 million.  That is how many roses it is estimated are grown for Valentine’s Day.  That is even more than the 145 million cards that are exchanged on February 14th of every year.  

Most of us remember exchanging Valentine’s cards in our elementary school days.  We were encouraged to give one to everyone in our class back in the early 1960s so as to not hurt anyone’s feelings.  That doesn’t mean you did not pick a favorite card for your childhood sweetie.  That is also when I first remember the heart shaped candies with two or three-word sayings stamped on one side, like “Be Mine”.

The number one recipient of Valentines these days is not your sweetheart, but rather teachers.  They are followed by children, mothers, wives and pets.   I cannot honestly remember if I ever gave one of my three great dogs a Valentine.  Yet, 20% of pet owners give their favorite animal a GIFT on Valentine’s Day.

Another popular gift on Valentine’s Day is chocolate.  Over 30 percent of the American public would like to receive chocolate or sweets for the occasion.  Perhaps Hersey is collaborating with Hallmark on this particular holiday.

Over $2.2 billion is spent on candy for Valentine’s Day.  Even more is spent on flowers, ringing up a total of $2.3 billion.  Surprisingly, those expenditures are dwarfed by the $6.6 billion spent annually on jewelry.   And that does not even count the money spent on the cards and the postage to send them.  All in all, approximately $20 billion is spent for Valentine’s Day. 

Hallmark offers over 1,500 types of Valentine’s Cards, though I usually find myself searching for a special card when there are only a few left.   I am not alone, as most people buy their cards during the week before Valentine’s Day, even though you see them being placed in stores just days after Christmas.

Some take their expressions of love even more seriously.   Over 1,000 letters addressed simply to “Juliet” are received each year in the Italian city of Verona.  This was the location of the famous scene in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  

Over 9 million marriage proposals are expected to be made on Valentine’s Day this year.  Almost 2 million Facebook users will likely change their relationship status within a week of Valentine’s Day. 

Valentine’s Day is one of our oldest holidays.  In the Middle Ages, young men and women would select names from a bowl to see who their Valentine would be.  Whether they liked their selection or not, they would pin this name to their sleeve and wear it for a week for everyone to see.  This is where the saying “to wear your heart on your sleeve” came from.

Yet, Valentine’s Day goes back even further.  It is widely thought that the Saint Valentine of Valentine’s Day was one of two men that were preaching the good word in the third century.  One of these saints was martyred on February 14, 269, which gave us this date for a holiday still celebrated over 1,750 years later.

Perhaps the true premise of Valentine’s Day goes back even further.  Plato described love this way when he wrote some 400 years before Christ: “Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back”.    

May you seek, hold, or remember that heart that is whispering to you.


Dan Ponder can be reached at

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