Step inside, and follow that garden of rose petals leading from the front door to the bedroom. See the candles surrounding the comforter stretched across the floor, that special someone waiting for you in the center wearing next to nothing and holding a rose stem in his teeth. Now close your eyes. Listen to the soft mellow hum of Kenny G. from the iPod dock. Feel the first traces of cloth start to leave your body as you writhe against your lover’s touch. And try not to envision this:
That’s a little something we like to call the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. It’s the real thing, too, kiddies, the aftermath of when Al Capone sent some gunmen to rub out a few rival gang members. It’s also a pretty good representation of how our wallets feel on Feb. 15. So with that said, here are a few things you may not know about this most pesky of holidays.
1. Men Spend Double
Ladies, are you curious as to why men often grumble under their breaths about what a stupid holiday this is? Well, let’s look for a minute at the amount of money that men spend compared to you. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that guys spend around $158 each year on the holiday, while ladies skimp by at $85. Considering the fact that you ladies have been narrowing the gap in the earnings race over the last 10 years, according to the U.S. Labor Department, it may be time for you to step things up a bit. Women currently earn 79% of what a man earns on average. When it comes to V-Day spending, however, they dole out only 45% of what their counterparts do. Cheapskates!
2. Men Don’t Want Anything
Okay, guys, so you’ve got your complaint in about the gifts that your women get you, but before you go off feeling sorry for yourself, consider this. More than one-third of you claim that you don’t even WANT a present on Valentines Day. Come on, guys, you can’t have your red velvet cake and eat it, too. What’s it going to be, more awesome presents or a mutual agreement to act like the holiday doesn’t exist? If it’s the latter, you’re out of luck. Only about 20% of females would be all right with ditching V-Day altogether. That means 80% are in relationships where they expect something. And, guys, if yours is one of the 20%, you hold on to her like grim death.
3. Probably Because All They Get Are Cards
Sales data for Valentine’s cards shows approximately 1 billion are exchanged each year. Of the 1 billion sold, 85% (or 850 million) are bought by women. Considering the little factoid above—that men spend way more than ladies on V-Day—it is apparent the guys are racking their brains trying to find the most perfect of gifts for their sweethearts, and they simply don’t have the time for some cheap-ass sentiment. Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, the statistics show that half of those cards you’re buying up will be purchased in the last six days leading up to the holiday. Some thought!
4. But At Least You Are Supporting the U.S. Economy—WRONG!
So maybe you are doing the local floral shops a service by paying about $40 more than the roses are actually worth, but when it comes to the actual production of the roses, you U.S. citizens aren’t doing local produce any favors. See, California makes more than 60% of the nation’s supply of roses, but most are bought and imported from South American sources. Of course, we have a tradition of scalping one another in this country on price. Most florists on average charge you 30 percent higher for the same rose selection during V-Day than they would any other time of year.
5. Roses Are Only the Fourth Most Popular Valentines Gift
In a span of three days, around 110 million roses will be delivered each year. Even though this is a pretty impressive number, sending flowers is only the fourth most popular Valentines gift there is, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with only 32% of people who celebrate the holiday buying in.
(Thanks to the Bureau for taking time out of their busy schedules to track down this incredibly valuable information.)
Greeting cards (65%), date night (44%), and candies (38%), post better numbers, though most of us have to do all three. And by “most of us,” we mean guys. Approximately 73% of all the roses purchased are sold to men. No wonder most Americans will spend an average of $119.67 on the event this year.
6. Tell Us about Your Valentine’s Day Again, Grandpa!
Well, sonny, in ancient Rome during the Lupercalia fertility festival, we men would get to draw the name of a young woman to have sexual relations with for the entire year. In the Middle Ages, we sort of did the same thing. You never knew if you were going to lie down with a princess-in-training or that cute little peasant girl with the pus-y boils all over her face. It was a gamble, but we took what we were given, and we liked it. You chose the name of that Valentine written on parchment and you wore it on your arm with pride for the whole week. There wasn’t any of this love and free choice business. You played the hand you were dealt, and if she happened to have the plague, so be it.
7. Valentine’s Day Is NOT a Day for Lovers—At Least, We Hope Not
While cozying up by the fire with your special person seems like the sort of thing this holiday was made for, try not to get carried away with the idea that Feb. 14 is some kind of special symbol for all things amorous. In fact, if you look at who receives the most Valentine’s each year, the thought of V-Day and sex is a little disturbing. See, teachers and children are the major recipients. They are followed by mothers, then wives, then sweethearts, and finally pets. Of those categories, there are three that you should never even consider having sex with unless you are married to the teacher, want to end up on a sex offender registry, or have no qualms about not being allowed near an animal shelter or pet store for the rest of your life. Also, one in five Valentines given are from children to parents, and each year, 9 million of you will buy Valentines for your pets. Just let it stop with the card and maybe a treat, okay?
8. Valentine’s Day Historical Round-Up
There have been some pretty cool things happen on Valentine’s Day, aside from the Massacre referenced above. For starters, the oldest surviving Valentine dates back to Charles, the Duke of Orleans, who wrote a poem to his beloved while imprisoned in the infamous Tower of London. He was released in 1440 after being held in captivity more than 20 years for his part in the Battle of Agincourt. Unfortunately, she died before he could see her again. Other cool historical facts:
- Alexander Graham Bell applied for the telephone patent on V-Day, 1876.
- Richard Cadbury invented the first candy box in the latter half of the 19th Century.
- Hallmark produced its first Valentines Card in 1913.
- Sugar Ray Robinson-Jake LaMotta VI, the final meeting of these two ring legends, was fought on Valentine’s Day in 1951. Robinson won the fight via 13th round TKO, but to reiterate Robert DeNiro’s delivery from the film Raging Bull: “You never put me down, Ray.” Robinson did, however, beat LaMotta ugly-nasty.
9. So Maybe Valentine’s Day IS a Day for Lovers After All
Since penicillin was invented to, among other things, fight syphilis on Feb. 14, 1929—don’t tell us that’s a coincidence—it has made sex on V-Day a little safer for those willing to try it. And apparently, there are quite a few people out there giving it a spin. The condom company Durex reports that their sales increase 20-30% around the holiday compared to how they hold up the rest of the year. Furthermore, March is the prime month for at-home pregnancy test sales, which means that not only are more people getting it on during this time of year, but also condom companies in general aren’t doing a very good job with their products.
10. Valentine’s Day Blues
Valentine’s Day has recently received an additional label, summed up by the acronym SAD, which stands for Singles Awareness Day. Before you go off broadcasting your perfect relationship, keep in mind that for every 120 single men, ages 20-29, there are only 100 single women. Of course, guys, there is hope if you can make it past 65, because the numbers tip greatly in your favor with 100 single women for every 33 single guys. So if you’ve meant to start pimping, that’s probably the time. Further proof that women are not immune from the Valentine’s Day blues: approximately 15% send themselves gifts or flowers each year, so not to come under the harsh spotlight of loneliness. In other words, there are a lot of pitiful people that just don’t want to hear how perfect your boyfriend or girlfriend is. Show some respect, ‘kay?
11. Valentines Day Is a Time for Torturing Kids
And no, we don’t mean tormenting them with Mom-Dad sex tapes, though that would be a good way to teach abstinence, we’re thinking. No, we mean that all those candies you buy each year have to use cocoa, and that must be produced somewhere. And one of the most prevalent places for cocoa production is the Ivory Coast, where an estimated 300,000 kids are used as part of a child slavery ring each year for this very thing. The next time you dig in to one of your beloved chocolate-covered cherries think about what those poor kids have to go through to make the ingredient that brings you so much joy. If you can still have a happy Valentine’s Day after that, then our guilt tactics are obviously not working as well as they should.
12. Strange Facts about Kissing
What Valentine’s Day piece would be complete without shining a little light on the ol’ philematology (that’s the art or science of kissing, and it makes us really smart that we were able to google that up, so a little respect please)? For starters, kissing is not necessarily good for one’s health. Indiana refuses to allow mustached gentlemen to “habitually kiss human beings.” If you’re with your wife on a Sunday in Hartford, Connecticut, then don’t you even think about kissing her in public! And if you kiss a total stranger in the town of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, then you could, by all accounts, be arrested or slapped with a fine. In addition to these odd facts about kissing, here are a few more:
- One minute of kiss-time burns around 26 calories
- In a lifetime, you’ll spend about two weeks lip-locked with someone (approximately 524,160 calories burned)
- To beat the world record for longest kiss, you’ll have to go more than 29 hours (approximately 45,240 calories burned)
- Setting your goals a bit lower, you can always kiss for 2 minutes and 19 seconds while submerged in water if you want to break the longest underwater kiss record
- 3 minutes, 6 seconds will beat the longest movie kiss record set by Jane Wyman and Regis Tommey in the 1941 film “You’re in the Army Now”
That does it for us, Star Costumes readers. However you celebrate the holiday, make sure you use protection, regardless if that means buying up latex from our friends at Durex or simply avoiding the 80% of women who expect you to get them something. Feb. 14 is a time for love, and that’s something you can practice whether you’ve met that special