That’s how much Americans spent on flowers in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The average American consumed 24.7 pounds of chocolate that year, much of it in the form of Valentine’s Day candy.
According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, the average person this year will spend about $142 on Feb. 14.
Several Amarillo College students said they would participate in the festivities this year, but few said they know the history behind the purchases that would cost them about the same amount as an average textbook.
“I celebrate by buying gifts for my parents and brother and sister,” said Katie Safta, a nursing major.
The history behind Valentine’s is murky, but one of the most popular beliefs regarding the holiday is that it was created to honor a holy priest name Valentine who illegally married young couples. Valentine, who believed it to be a sacred union between man and woman, was caught and imprisoned for his crimes against Emperor Claudius II. Then he was executed.
In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the 14th of February was the beginning of birds’ mating season in France and England. Feb. 14 was declared St. Valentine’s day in the fifth century, but it was much later that the day became associated with love.
The tradition of saying “From your Valentine” is believed to be because in Valentine’s last letter, he signed it from “your Valentine.”
Benjamin Solis, a civil engineering major, said learning some of the history changed his perspective on the holiday.
“It does change my mind, because we don’t embrace it,” he said of the origins.
According to history.com, the day of Valentine’s death may have been tied to the Feast of Lupercalia, which was a pagan festival of love. It wasn’t until 496 A.D. that Pope Gelasius declared that Feb.14 would be celebrated as St. Valentines Day.
“We try to celebrate. If anything, we make it our day and set out to spend it together,” said lab tech major Emma Robinson,
Different students associate various meanings with Valentine’s.
“It’s about my childhood, getting together and giving candy and cards,” Solis said.
Others said they spend the day with their significant other.
“I go out and give gifts with my husband,” said general studies major Knoloud Doraji.
Still others said it doesn’t have to be a celebration of marriage or dating but the most important people in their lives.
“Valentine’s Day is when you take out time to appreciate the one you love most,” Robinson said.