Valentine’s Day pressure is being relieved

For most people, Valentine’s Day is a day of affections and confections, a day of kisses, candy, flowers, diamonds and the perfectly worded greeting card. A day in which we celebrate love, men are expected to pull out all the stops.

In tough economic times, purchasing lavish or extravagant gifts for that special someone may have become difficult. While every woman dreams of diamonds and other jewelry for that once-a-year occasion, reminders of credit card bills from Christmas gifts loom.

Just like Christmas is about more than gifts, so too is Valentine’s Day but with a deeper meaning. The day in which we celebrate love and affection – Feb. 14 – has not always been so rosy.

The true romance of the celebration began with the legend of St. Valentine in roughly 270 A.D.

St. Valentine was a holy priest who was arrested and imprisoned for marrying Christian couples and for aiding Christians who were being persecuted during the reign of Claudius the Goth (Claudius II).

He was brought to prison where he was tortured in an attempt to make him renounce his Christian faith. When Valentine instead tried to convert Claudius, he was executed outside the Flaminian Gate on Feb. 14, about the year 270.

While awaiting his execution, one legend says, couples for whom he had performed marriages brought flowers and gifts to show their respect and admiration. This led to our modern tradition of showering your Valentine with gifts.

“Some people go so over the top on this one day but forget to show that same love and care the other 364 days of the year,” says Janine Miller of Miami. “While I enjoy Valentine’s Day, I believe that we should treat our loved ones special everyday and not feel the pressure to go big or forget it.”

It is also said that St. Valentine, while imprisoned, fell in love with and restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter. That miracle led to his eventual canonization. Before being beheaded, though, he gave her a note saying “from your Valentine.” In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius marked Feb. 14 as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.

Although the legend of St. Valentine is a tale of true love that transcends mere sentiment, in modern times it has become more materialistic. Men are expected to shower their women with candy, roses, jewelry and a romantic evening with candles and wine.

With just over 31 million gifts purchased in 2010, men seem to be losing enthusiasm for Valentine’s Day, buying 2.3 million fewer gifts than the previous year, a 16 percent drop. 29 percent of those men surveyed admitted “financial stress” in their decision to cut back.

“If I do by chance get a gift, it will be something that someone at work gave him and we will wrap it up with dinner at the same old place we go to all the time,” says Melissa Cockcroft of Pinellas Park. “He never buys me anything because he is just too cheap, not because he doesn’t care.”

Recent studies show that 71 percent of married couples have reduced overall spending during the recession. While men account for two-thirds of Valentine’s Day gift purchases, spending fell by 25 percent last year over 2009, a trend set to continue this year.

“I’ve always hated being pigeonholed to a specific date to do something nice,” says Rico Petrocelli of Plantation, married 35 years to wife Camille. “It doesn’t matter what day it is. I can do something special anytime of the year without the pressure of doing on one particular day. It’s not the cost of the gift, but the thought that counts.”

So maybe the best gift you can give this Valentine’s Day is one of yourself. In tough economic times, reducing financial stress and the strain on your relationship may help keep your Valentine for many years to come.

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, please visit

William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity. To learn more, tune into “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis,” a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues on AM 1470 WWNN.

Source:  The Credit Report with Bill Lewis – Highlands Today, an edition of the Tampa Tribune – Media General Group

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