Editor’s note: A version of this editorial originally appeared in The Daily Star on Feb. 14, 2004. It runs again today in honor of Valentine’s Day.
“I love you.”
“You’re cute when you’re spending money.”
In case you’re wondering, that’s what candy-makers, florists, jewelers, card manufacturers and countless other retailers across the nation are thinking this week.
According to the National Retail Federation’s website, Americans are expected to spend more than $18.6 billion on the holiday this year.
That’s more than the 2011 gross domestic product of Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to World Bank data.
The average consumer will spend nearly $131 on the holiday, the NRF said.
Wait, you say, isn’t that kind of pricey?
But look at your traditional Valentine’s Day celebration, and it starts to make sense: Valentine’s Day card, $4; bottle of wine, $15; dozen red roses, arranged, $70; box of chocolates, $10; dinner for two at a nice restaurant, $75 ... And that’s just the baseline stuff.
If you really love your significant other, as we know from jewelry commercials, only a diamond guaranteed to make your loved one’s hand drag along the floor as you enter the restaurant will really demonstrate the depth of your love.
Of course, that’s an exaggeration. But it is true that Valentine’s Day, much like Christmas, has become increasingly commercialized over the years, making it easy to ignore true sentiment and meaning in favor of rote gesture.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be expensive.
A well-thought-out gesture — like buying your wife lilies instead of roses because you know she likes them better, or picking a restaurant you know your boyfriend likes over the most expensive one in town — makes up in caring what it lacks in the bill.