Valentine's Day at Work

Valentine's Day dates back to the Christian martyr Saint Valentine (or Valentinus). His life and death had nothing to do with love however. Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor of Rome to Christianity and was sentenced to death. He was beaten with clubs, stoned and then beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate in Rome.

Very little is actually known about Valentinus in terms of historical fact.

The concept of celebrating Valentine's Day didn't become popular until Geoffrey Chaucer who promoted the idea of courtly love and romance. Chaucer and other bards of his era created many songs and stories promoting romantic love and propagated the myth of Valentine's Day into its modern celebration of romance.

Valentine's Day is actually a pretty busy for both couples and businesses.

Flower shops, chocolate sales, lingerie sales, etc.

But there are plenty of other things people could be doing on, before or after Valentine's Day if they're feeling romantic.


#1. Dance Classes

Some women go weak at the knees when it comes to dancing, but are too afraid to step on a dance floor in a club. Plus there are plenty of people who are simply afraid of the kind of drama, nonsense, drunkenness and even crime that goes on in modern dance clubs and want something more conventional, less formal and where they can actually learn and have fun. Thus dance classes sounds pretty romantic for most people, even if they have difficulty moving about / are embarrassed about it.

#2. Swimming Pools

Now obviously we can't all afford swimming pools, but swimming together has always been a very romantic thought. Heck, if you want a combination of things you can always just watch the film Dirty Dancing together.

I suppose if you actually had the money you could pull a Clark W. Griswold move and announce you are putting in a swimming pool.

#3. Romantic Artwork

Now this is a personal bias since I am an artist and I happen to paint romantic artwork occasionally, but whatever. I am going to guess that there is a fair amount of people out there who share my belief that artwork makes a great Valentine's Day gift.

Of course there might be men (and even women) out there who are more turned on by power tools and the sounds of heavy machinery in the background.

So if you're the type of person who gets turned on by rigid foam insulation (pun deliberate), wall systems or new patio furniture... well then you don't really need Valentine's Day to feel romantic, do you? You probably get turned on just by hearing the ice cream truck and then start making all sorts of crude jokes about cream.

Or maybe you're a green oriented environmentalist? For all we know you might get turned on by solar power hardware (again, pun deliberate) and solar power Ontario MicroFIT programs and solar manufacturing software.

Or maybe you're a vegan? In which case I recommend

I think part of the problem with Valentine's Day is that it sometimes sneaks up on people and they forget what day it is. Same with Groundhog Day and Pancake Day, they come and go so quickly sometimes that you forget about them. February just isn't as well known for holidays as October, December or April are. After all you don't even the day off...

So as men today rush out to buy gifts at the last minute many of them will be going straight to the lingerie store first. (Although seriously, the flower shop probably runs out of supplies faster.)

According to our research the big thing in 2011 is vintage lingerie, so things like push-up bras, suspender garter belts, waist cinchers and pin-up stockings with respect to fashion. Blame Mad Men and the recent upshot of interest in retrofuturism / Steampunk.

And don't forget jewelry, another hot item during Valentine's Day, despite gold prices being more than $1,300 per ounce. And perfume... although seriously, you must be running out of ideas if you buy a girl perfume.

In 2009 Canada's Valentine’s Day floriculture sales (before expenses) was $1.44 billion. Figures for 2010 aren't available yet because not all the shops from 2010 have submitted their income tax info yet.

Cosmetic surgeons, dentists, marriage counsellors, online dating services, even divorce lawyers all report an increase in activity on, before or after Valentine's Day.

But the one I really want to talk about is private investigators.

Apparently Valentine's Day is the busiest day of the year for PIs (business goes up 150% above normal according to one source), due to the number of people cheating on Valentine's Day. Spouses get suspicious, they start thinking of divorce, they hire a PI, and then the next thing you know they're headed to the divorce lawyer.

For fun, go watch Burn After Reading too. Spoiler alert! The bits about the divorce lawyer and private investigators are quite funny.

It makes me wonder what the statistics are for the number of divorces that happen in the months AFTER Valentine's. I mean first you find out they are cheating on you, then you hire a marriage counsellor, then you agree to the divorce, then you have to hire a real estate agent, and a home stager because neither of you wants to live in the house together, and then voila... finally the sale of the house, the division of the spoils of love and war, and its over.

Meanwhile in the United States... Americans are planning to spend an average of $116.21 USD on Valentine's Day, up 11% from last year’s $103 (a sure sign of economic recovery if I ever saw one). [Source: National Retail Federation]

Total Valentine's Day spending is expected to reach $15.7 billion, up from $14.1 billion in 2010, but still lower than pre-recession levels.

In order of significance (2011 polls):

Greeting cards: 52.1%
Jewelry: 17.3% (up from 15.5% in 2010)
Florist: 16.8%

Its difficult to track how much people spend on clothing, flowers, candy etc because prices can vary wildly and could cover everything from cinnamon hearts to red hats.

Interesting fact! Men spend roughly double what women spend on Valentine's. The average man spends $158.71 whereas the average woman spends $75.79.

And oddly enough women are more likely to spend their amount on personal things, like hair salons and grooming.

The age difference is also a big deal. Adults 25 to 34 will spend an average of $189.97 USD, compared to the $60.22 USD that adults 65 and older will spend.

30% of couples are planning to dine out tonight.

$9.3 billion is the expected amount of Valentine’s Day gift spending (not including dinner, transportation, etc) on partners today.

$681 million Valentine’s gift spending on pets (a surprising number of people buy things for their pets today... loneliness maybe?)

*Source: National Retail Federation

See my past post: Valentine's Day Primer

Males can't remember things when sex is involved

According to a new study, men have difficulty remembering things when distracted by sex.


Tell us something else we already know.

According to the study men are less likely to retain the information relayed to them by sexually attractive news anchors than those deemed less sexually attractive, the new research says.

Basically what is happening is that men are more likely to watch a sexually attractive news anchor - but are less likely to remember what she actually said because he will start daydreaming about sex.

Writing in the journal Communication Research, Indiana University telecommunications professor Maria Elizabeth Grabe and doctoral candidate Lelia Samson explored how the appearance of a female news anchor affects the audience of a news program.

Grabe, a former journalist herself, recalls how in the 1980s female anchors weren’t sexualized the way they are today. Instead it was all about being "as androgynous as possible."

"It was the golden rule: Don’t let the physical - the femininity - don’t let it get in the way of the news," says Grabe. "That was the old way of thinking. And now Lelia and I are watching the news and we’re going, 'Whoa, babes!' "

During their study, the researchers recruited 386 participants: 193 men and women. They used one news anchor (a 24-year-old brunette of “average” weight) and dressed her up in two different ways: as a sexualized anchor, giving her a fitted jacket and skirt to wear, and putting bright red lipstick on her and a necklace; and as an unsexualized anchor, wearing a shapeless, loose-fitting jacket, and no lipstick or necklace.

The rest of the female anchor’s appearance (hair, makeup, etc.) remained the same for both. She read the same five stories as the sexualized anchor and as the unsexualized anchor.

Men were so affected by the physical characteristics of the sexualized anchor, they were unable to retain much of the information she relayed. Grabe and Samson were not surprised.

And frankly who would be?

We all know men's brains turn to mush when they see things that are deemed sexually attractive to them. We don't need any new research to confirm what we already know.

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