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The History of Valentine’s Day

February 16, 2018

Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

This week, we celebrate an important holiday. This is one of the few holidays in which chocolate, an expensive commodity, is discounted to ridiculously low prices. How did this magical holiday come to be? Well, it all started with a saint, St. Valentine to be more precise.

There are three saints named Valentine, so there are varying descriptions of St. Valentine. One legend states that he secretly wed soldiers, giving his blessing to many men and women, in spite of Roman law, and was executed for his treason. Another legend states that the true St. Valentine was a man who fell in love with a jailer’s daughter. Nevertheless, the more interesting aspect of the holiday comes from the marketization of the holiday, with a multitude of corporations able to cash in on the notion of love.

In the 1840s, two Cadbury brothers started selling chocolate in heart-shaped containers. Richard and George, two devout Quakers, would learn to profit off of the craving for chocolate, and transformed Valentine’s Day into a day in which lovers gifted each other chocolate. This tradition would continue despite two World Wars, and it is thanks to the Cadbury brothers that chocolate is so inexpensive on this holiday.

After the success of the Cadbury brothers, corporations noticed how consumers tended to be more willing to spend capital during this holiday. Now, an estimated 17.3 billion USD is spent on Valentine’s Day, across all of the products that men and women buy each other. Thankfully, everyone is perfectly fine with fueling the capitalist machine that runs most of this world. Happy late Valentine’s Day!

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