Valentine’s Day by the Numbers

In countries all across the world, Valentine’s Day, also known as the Feast of St. Valentine, is often celebrated in the ways handed down by tradition—with lovers (even the anonymous ones) exchanging cards, chocolates, red roses and, of course, jewelry to show their deep affection or abiding love. In the U.S., Valentine’s Day is a nearly $15 billion industry, according to a CNN report, and lovers’ affections for the traditional gifts show no signs of abating.

In fact, CNN reports that each year more than 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged (with women buying 85% of them) and gold, diamond and silver purchases total $4.4 billion. According to the National Confectioner’s Association, each year more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are purchased (50% by women, says the Chocolate Manufacturers Association), while floral sales approach nearly $2 billion. That, according to the Society of American Florists, works out to more than 110 million roses—with men buying 75% of these fragrant declarations of love.

Sure, the day has become a commercial bonanza, but the numbers bear this out: Lots of people relish this lovers’ holiday and are willing to fork over the cash to prove it. Ever wonder where some of these gift-giving traditions started, what they mean or who enjoys them the most? Here’s a little Valentine’s Day trivia quiz to help you test your IQ in this important matter of the heart:

1.) Which company first produced that enduring symbol of love, the heart-shaped box of chocolates?

a.) Hershey
b.) Cadbury
c.) Lady Godiva
d.) Nestlé

If you answered Cadbury, you’re off to a good start. The son of John Cadbury, Richard, invented the very first heart-shaped box in 1861 to up sales for the day. It worked! And today many imitators are still enjoying the sweet rewards.

2.) How many long-stemmed red roses does it take to say, “You’re the only one?”

a.) One rose
b.) One dozen roses
c.) Three roses
d.) Three dozen roses

If you answered one dozen roses, your wallet is likely to take a hit since the price of these harbingers of love skyrocket on Valentine’s Day. The answer is actually a.) one rose—a single red rose implies the receiver is the only one. (Back in the day, the red rose was the beloved flower of Venus, the Goddess of Love). Want to simply say, “I love you?” Three red roses can do that for you, while three-dozen long-stemmed red roses shout, “My heart belongs to you!”

3.) Which of these groups typically exchange the most Valentine’s Day cards?

a.) Children between the ages of 6 and 10
b.) Young adults between 13 and 17
c.) Young couples in the 20- to 30-year range
d.) Older couples above age 65

If you said older couples above age 65, you are a dyed-in-the-wool romantic. But alas, the answer is a.) Children between the ages of 6 and 10. In fact, children at these ages typically exchange more than 650 million cards a year. Handmade or store bought, these expressions of love and affection are bashfully, boldly and, at any rate, excitedly given and received. It seems we get hooked on love and love’s greatest celebration early—and fortunately, we never seem to outgrow it.


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