Big spending Valentines keep restaurants happy

VALENTINE’S PROMISES: One day you’ll get that diamond ring

ST VALENTINE’S DAY didn’t start off associated with romance. Far from it. It began as a celebration of one or more (the exact number’s uncertain!) early Christian saints named Valentinus.

According to one of the most popular accounts Saint Valentine was imprisoned for ministering to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. During his imprisonment he’s said to have healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius, and, legend has it, before his execution wrote “from your Valentine” as a farewell to her.

It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that the day first became associated with romance. And by the 15th century, it had developed into a full-on event with flowers, confectionery and the exchange of greetings cards (known as “valentines“). Nowadays it’s the second most celebrated event around the world after New Year’s Eve.

Now, apart from keeping florists, confectioners and card makers (not to mention restaurateurs) in business, it also seems to help keep the economy afloat in these tough times.

In the USA for instance, Valentine’s Day 2013 is estimated to be worth $18.6 billion (€13.7 billion), according to the National Retail Federation. The highest since the NRF began surveying shoppers 10 years ago. As usual, men plan to spend more than women ($175.61 or €129.41 per guy, $88.78 or €65.45 per gal), with those complacent married folk spending less. Although only one in five (19.7 per cent) said they’d buy the traditional romantic gift of jewellery, they’ll wind up spending the most: $4.4 billion (€3.24 billion).

Which reminds me of that old joke: a married couple’s already spent several hours at a shopping centre on the eve of St Valentine’s. Suddenly, the wife realizes her husband’s gone AWOL.
Angrily she phones him, demanding: “Where the heck are you?”
Husband: “Darling, remember that jewellery store where you saw that beautiful diamond eternity ring but I didn’t have the money that time and said, ‘Darling, it’ll be yours one day really soon?’ ”
Wife, trying to stop blushing, gushes: “Yes, I remember, darling.”
Husband: “Well, I’m in the pub next to that store.”

Which reminds me, too, of that old De Beers campaign slogan for diamond eternity rings aimed at husbands: “She married you for richer or poorer. Let her know how it’s going …” Romantic, eh? Have a nice day!

Nora Johnson’s thrillers ‘Soul Stealer’ & ‘The De Clerambault Code’ ( available from Amazon in paperback/ eBook (€0.89; £0.77) and iBookstore. Profits to Cudeca 

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