“Marriage is a wonderful institution…but who wants to live in an institution?”
Valentine’s Day traces its origins to an annual Roman pagan celebration, called Lupercalia, which was held yearly on February 15. Seems the lovers’ holiday has its roots in raucous annual Roman festivals where men stripped naked, grabbed goat- or dog-skin whips, and spanked young maidens in hopes of increasing their fertility, says classics professor Noel Lenski of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The Celebration was disapproved of by the Roman Catholic Church and thus linked the festival to the legend of St. Valentine. Even so, the Holiday’s popularity persisted into the fifth century A.D; at least 150 years after Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.
In the third century A.D., Roman Emperor Claudius II, seeking to bolster his army, forbade young men to marry. Valentine, according to legend, defied the ban and performed clandestine marriages. Valentine was executed in A.D. 270 – on February 14.
The first known Valentine’s Day card was sent in 1415 from France’s Duke of Orleans to his wife when he was a prisoner in the Tower of London following the Battle of Agincourt.
The tradition of hand-written Valentines gained popularity in the U.S. during the Revolutionary War. Mass production soon began in the early 1900s, and Hallmark started selling the cards 1913.
According to an article from USA TODAY:
The 55% of Americans who say they plan to celebrate the holiday are estimated to spend, on average, $143.56, according to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics. That’s up from last year’s $136.57.
Total spending will hit $19.6 billion, according to the survey, a dramatic increase from the $18.2 billion spent last year. The 2018 number, however, won’t quite break the record of $19.7 billion set in 2016, when the average was $146.84, for a $19.7 billion total.
The Holiday gears much of its commercial focus on men: In the U.S. males will spend nearly twice as much on the holiday as U.S. females. In 2011, the average man spent $158.71, up 17% from $135.35 last year on Valentine’s Day gifts, while a typical woman spent $75.79, up 5% from $72.28.
How sweet it is; about 47 percent of U.S. consumers will exchange Valentine’s Day candy, at a cost of about $1 billion. Nearly 75 percent of that billion comes from sales of chocolate (chocolate has been linked to romance at least since Mexico’s 15th- and 16th-century Aztec Empire).
Given these billions of dollars and all the effort and energy expended to say “I love you,” is there something we as boomer men can do that is more lasting than say a box of (high calorie) chocolates?
Aging in Place is a Women’s Issue
Women in most developed countries still outlive men by 5 to 9 years; although men do get old—women get older. For that reason, aging in place is an important issue to the women in our lives.
Fact: Widowhood is more common among older women than older men. In the United States, about 700,000 to a million women are widowed each year. Approximately 75 percent of widows are 55 or older; and widows account for 53 percent of women 75 to 84, according to U.S. Census data.
Women tend to spend their savings on their husbands’ care, and then live alone for 15 to 20 years with far fewer resources. Medicare pays only about half of older people’s health costs; the term for this is “spend down.” The time to give the gift of aging in place independence is before this happens—while you’re both home to enjoy the benefits of being home by choice—together.
A Valentine’s Legacy of Independence
It may not seem romantic but loving your spouse means being there for her now and in the future by leaving a legacy of independence. The thought of her losing the safety and comfort of home is unpleasant at best…This year skip the chocolates and flowers; instead, make an appointment with a CAPS trained remodeler for a home assessment.
Then make dinner for her and after taking her by the hand look lovingly into her eyes tell her your expression of love this year will be different—lasting…Turn down the lights (using the rocker switches you just installed), light the candles and describe your future together in an accessible home with beautiful Universal Design features. After all, as Groucho says: “Marriage is a wonderful institution…but who wants to live in an institution?”
She’ll love you for it…
Spend Down Advising the Widow
John Roach for National Geographic News: Valentine’s Day Facts and Figures