By Michelle Rauch
I have a confession—I have never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. The realist in me always saw it as an overly commercialized day full of hype to boost candy, card, and flower sales. Sure, it’s nice to get flowers on Valentine’s day, especially when everyone around you is getting them, but I am one who appreciates the unexpected. How about flowers, just because day? Now that would be special and memorable. With that confession aside, here’s a look at the history of the day and it’s gift of choice, the rose.
The origins of Valentine’s Day are about as reliable as a garden’s productivity on any given year. There are theories. The tie between mid-February and love dates back to a pagan fertility festival.
It has been said that the day was derived from the namesake of a 5th century priest named Valentine, who defied his ruler and still performed marriages for young men during a time when it was prohibited. It was believed focused soldiers were needed without the temptation of love, therefore they should not wed. Valentine was sentenced to death on February 14th. Prior to his fate he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and sent her a declaration of his love and signed it "from your Valentine." Other theorists believed February 14th was the beginning of the mating season for many birds. Love was in the air.
The rose is believed to have been the flower of choice for Venus, the Goddess of Love. The red rose, specifically, stands for strong romantic feelings. Wherever the roots of the day were planted, it’s a tradition with some mind boggling statistics. I have compiled a list of fun facts. My list of sources includes the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Valentine’s Day may be just one day, but the numbers will tell you it’s big business around the world for flower producers.
The majority of flower buyers on Valentine’s day are men, although one study found that 15% of women in the United States will send themselves flowers on this day.
California produces 60% of American roses.
The majority of cut flower shipments are imported from South America. Colombia leads with 536 million stems (67%). Ecuador is a distant second with 194 million stems (23%).
U.S. ports of entry for shipments of imported cut flower imports: Miami and Los Angeles.
The top cut flower imports are Roses, mixed bouquets, and Dianthus.
More than 200 million roses are sold in the U.S. during an average year.
My most memorable Valentine’s Day was my freshman year in college. My 19-year old boyfriend "WOWed" me with a dozen red roses, a box of chocolates, a bottle of Dom Perignon and two Baccarat crystal champagne flutes. Memorable alright, but I dare say my young suitor was simply out to make a flashy impression based on how much money he spent. Little did he know I am a fan of affordable mixed bouquets. Flowers are nature’s loving gift to us all and food for our soul. I suggest they adorn your desk to be enjoyed all year long.