Love is in the air in this month’s newsletter! The onset of Valentine’s Day is contested by historians, but whether initiated by the poet, Chaucer, or done in honor of the Greek gods Eros and Psyche, the exchange of the familiar valentine and heart-shaped confectionaries gained popularity in the mid-nineteenth century. Articles encouraging the exchange of valentines were recorded in city newspapers as early as 1818, with the commercialization of valentine cards soon thereafter. One of the earliest valentine businesses was run by Esther Howland, who had a stationery store in Massachusetts. She asked her brothers to share samples in their door-to-door sales. In fact, she pre-dates Hallmark’s establishment by nearly 50 years!
And even more complicated, valentines were a way to negotiate marriage based on love versus marriage based on economic gain, particularly for the middle class, where a marriage based solely on love could leave one completely destitute.
Today, Valentine’s Day is a lucrative $25.9 billion business, with an average spend of nearly $200 for a loved one. The largest age group spending money on gifts? Ages 35-44!*
As a side, my husband and I met at our graduate school, Bowling Green State University. BGSU alumni couples are called “Falcon Flames.” To my knowledge, I do not believe Temple University has a couple nickname. Anyone have a good suggestion? Feel free to send me an email at email@example.com.
Assistant Dean of Development and Alumni Relations
*Report from National Retail Federation.