Valentine's Day is almost upon us and will be celebrated Feb. 14. It is not a public holiday in any country, but will be recognized as a cultural and commercial celebration in many places around the world.
The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th century England, it evolved into an occasion when lovers expressed their love for each other by giving flowers, offering confectionery and sending greeting cards. In the United States the first mass-produced Valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts. In the second half of the 20th century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manner of gifts. Such gifts typically included roses and chocolate packed in a red satin heart-shaped box. Valentine symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves and the figure of the winged Cupid.
The United States Greeting Card Association estimates that about 190 million are sent each year in the U.S. When the Valentine exchange cards made in school activities are included, the figure goes up to 1 billion. The average Valentine's Day spending has increased every year in the U.S. and was $131 per person in 2013. I am sure it is higher now! There are many countries where Valentine's Day is celebrated.
As I walked through one of our local stores this week it was obvious that Valentine's Day was coming up. The shelves were filled with bright red, heart-shaped boxes of candy and numerous other gift items. The color red was everywhere. Flower shops are offering special prices on red roses. The models in clothing stores are decked out in various red outfits. Restaurants are giving special deals on fancy meals. Jewelry stores are offering diamonds.
What if you are someone who can't afford those gifts for your special person? There are many "gifts" that can be given and don't cost money. Compliments -- telling someone you care about how nice they look when they get all dressed up, how pretty they are. Tell them how good of a meal they cooked or how special that dessert they made you was. Compliment them on something they made or crafted. Tell them how much you enjoy spending time with them. Hugs -- a special hug once in a while lets a person know you care. Sometimes just a hand laid on an arm or shoulder can mean so much. Taking a person's hand in yours can convey great care at times.
Offer to help someone with a chore or do the chore for them. Taking time to do something the special person in your life wants to do, even if it isn't your thing. Providing a safe and comfortable life for the person you care about is so important. Give that special person their own space once in a while. Give them a wink and a smile when they least expect it. Take the time to give the person you care about a handwritten note. Be there for them not only on the good days but especially on the bad days. There are so many ways you can give the gift of love to those you care about, not only on Valentine's Day but every day.