Valentine’s Day dates back 1,528 years. For many, the celebration is a chance to show appreciation for love and loved ones; for a few, it’s a reminder of loneliness; for some it means work.
“It’s a way to show somebody you love that you think about them and appreciate them,” Rich Henley, a tourist from Houston visiting Galveston, said. “We don’t get a lot of time to do that. It kind of forces you to be the decent person you really are.”
Valentine’s is just another day to express love toward your family and friends, Henley said.
“It’s a day to smile with people who you love,” Henley said. “It’s a holiday where you don’t have to be extravagant. You can get by with a few flowers and a box of candy, which you should be doing a lot more often. I make it a point every time I go anywhere without my wife, I bring her back something.”
Although Valentine’s Day might be celebrated by people of many faiths, Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t because of the holiday’s pagan history.
“It’s not that we can’t celebrate, it’s just the pagan origins that are related to the holiday that keeps us away from it,” Lorena Jones, a Jehovah’s Witness visiting Galveston on a missionary trip, said. “But we don’t frown on those showing love for one another.”
The exact history and origin of Valentine’s Day is still unknown, but some historians have linked the celebration to Lupercalia, which was an ancient pagan celebration held every year on Feb. 15.
Romans would celebrate Lupercalia with animal sacrifices and random coupling to ward off evil spirits and infertility, according to historians.
Pope Gelasius I did away with Lupercalia and declared Feb. 14 a day to celebrate the death of Saint Valentine, according to historians.
Loving each other and expressing emotions to loved ones is something that should be done every day, not just on Valentine’s Day, Jones said.
“It’s not something, as Christians, we feel comfortable doing,” Jones said. “We’re very much into family and solidity of relationship. People like to celebrate love and romance during this holiday, but there’s a darker origin to the holiday.”
Some people, like Galveston resident Bryan Torres, don’t think Valentine’s Day should be centered around romantic love for one person for one day out of the year, but should be celebrated with loved ones every day.
“Most people get this pressure to buy gifts that you can get any other day of the year for your girlfriend or boyfriend,” Torres said. “But it’s nice to have a day where you express love for each other.”
Valentine’s Day can be celebrated with friends or family, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic type of love, Torres said.
“Most people look at Valentine’s Day in a very wrong way,” Torres said. “I look at it as a love day, not a relationship day. People get sad when they’re not in a relationship on that day. Go hang out with your brother, your sister, your father or mother, whatever the case may be, and show them love.”
And showing love to family members is exactly what Heidi Seigel, of Galveston, intends to do.
“Valentine’s Day means showing my kids how much I love them,” Seigel said. “I give them cards, candy and small presents every Valentine’s Day. I also got my parents some balloons to celebrate Valentine’s.”
Although Valentine’s Day is a special day for many, for some people like John Paul, a first-year nursing student at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Valentine’s Day is just a reminder of loneliness.
“Honestly, I get it’s an affectionate day for loved ones and that’s nice, but when you’re single and you see those couples out on the street, you say, ‘I hate Valentine’s Day. Why can’t that be me?’” Paul said. “But I’m still happy for them. It’s just that it can be a rub in your face.”
Paul plans on going out, regardless, on Valentine’s Day to clubs and dance, he said.
No matter how people view Valentine’s Day, it’s big business.
More than 50 percent of consumers plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year and are expected to spend $25.9 billion, a $2 billion increase from 2022, according to the National Retail Federation.
The average consumer will spend about $192 this year for Valentine’s Day, according to the federation. Some of the top products consumers will buy are candy, with 57 percent of Valentine’s shoppers buying something sweet for their significant other. Greeting cards are the second-most purchased gift, with 40 percent of shoppers opting for them, while 37 percent of consumers buy flowers for their Valentine.
For florist and flower shop owner Marlene Ambriz of A Creation For You Florist, 819 Bayou Road in La Marque, Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest times of the year.
“This is our busiest time right now, people are coming and calling in,” Ambriz said. “People are placing orders making sure they’re getting what they want.”
Marlene Ambriz and her husband, Adrian, have been running the store for 10 years and are no strangers to busy days, she said.
“We are a small flower shop, but on Valentine’s Day, we can expect over a 100 orders of flower arrangements,” Ambriz said. “Last year, we had about 140 flower arrangements that we had completed.”
Ambriz runs the flower shop with her family and friends who assist her during high-volume demand weeks, such as Valentine’s Day, she said.
“We have family and friends who come in and help on the floor, or they’re in the back preparing and processing flowers getting ready for Valentine’s Day; everybody has been helping me get ready for the holiday,” she said. “It’s all about love at the end of the day.”
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