Flower sales boom on Valentine’s Day

by Erin Ghere

Some people say Valentine’s Day is for suckers. Others spend hundreds of dollars on the mid-winter occasion.
Either way, florists all over the world reap the benefits of a holiday that pays respect to the legendary Saint Valentine and an ancient Roman celebration of fertility and sensual pleasure.
University area florists expect a windfall in flower purchases around Valentine’s Day.
During the holiday, Sheffield’s Floral in Stadium Village does three to four times the amount of business they would do in a normal week over three days, said floral designer Jan Francis.
Although roses are the obvious favorite, Francis said carnations and lilies are popular as well.
“(Bouquets) are popular with people who want to get away from the traditional roses,” Francis said.
Now, the Internet has made it even easier to be the sweetheart your mate has always wanted. For a mere $80, a dozen long-stem red roses can be delivered to the one you love, without having to get in a car or pick up the phone.
Although the holiday has a long-standing history, there are still questions about its origin.
The validity of the mysterious Saint Valentine has never been proven, said Rev. Janet Wheelock, priest at the University Episcopal Center.
“(The story) has no religious merit whatsoever,” she laughed.
Legend has it Saint Valentine was a bishop beheaded for helping young lovers get married. While awaiting execution, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and signed his final note to her, “from your Valentine,” thus coining the commonly used phrase.
But even if a Saint Valentine existed, there is nothing to connect him to the custom of celebrating love and courtship each Feb. 14, Wheelock said.
There are two more likely explanations, say various histories. First, February is the beginning of spring in Rome, where the Valentine tradition began, and the time when birds begin to nest. Nesting is associated with love.
Secondly, a fifth-century Roman festival celebrating sensual pleasure in mid-February was an ideal place to meet and court a prospective mate, and is a possible birth of the tradition.
Although the celebration died out, the spirit continued. The first commercial valentines appeared around 1800 and were simplistic. Within several decades, the valentines were made with fine paper and covered in angels, cupids and hearts, much like today.
Other traditions included teenage girls running around a cemetery 12 times on the eve of Valentine’s Day to conjure up the appearance of her future spouse and then marrying the first available man they could find on Valentine’s Day.
Today, the exchange of chocolates, teddy bears and flowers have taken the place of the older customs.

Erin Ghere welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3218.