Valentine’s Day, or Single Awareness Day for some, is among us. Stores are decked in all things pink and red and are throwing gushy love messages at us left and right via cards, roses and little candies with super romantic sayings like “crazy 4 u,” “ur hot” and the oh so charming, “txt me.” (No.) 

But what is the actual origin of Valentine’s Day? When did February 14th become the international day to buy cards, chocolates, flowers and expensive jewelry to say, “I love you?” To explain, we must start at the beginning. Here is the cliff notes version:

Once upon a time the Roman Emperor Claudius II made a decree forbidding marriage because men were “not inclined to join the army because they were too attached to their wives and families.” Saint Valentine thought this to be a complete injustice and would marry lovers in secret. Valentine was discovered and his punishment—death—which occurred on, you guessed it, February 14th around the year 270 A.D. While in jail, St. Valentine became friends with the jailer’s daughter. As his last goodbye, Valentine wrote her a note and signed it “From Your Valentine.” 

What started as a sweet testament to love has resulted in a large payday for retailers. How did this happen? Marketing got involved.

In the second half of the 20th century, ads showed that chocolates and roses were a must for “your special someone” on Valentine’s Day. In 1980, the jewelry industry came into play, raising the bar (and price tag) for gifts to wives and girlfriends. This left the door open for any industry to get involved in the romance (and booming sales of their products.) Now on Valentine’s Day, a gift is more than just a sweet thought, it’s become a necessity. 

Valentine’s Day spending is jaw dropping.  In 2015:

  • $1 billion dollars were spent on cards
  • $1. 7 billion on candy
  • $2.1 billion on flowers
  • $3.6 billion on an evening out
  • $4.8 billion on jewelry

There is no surprise why other industries are entering the Valentine’s Day market, even if their products aren’t your “typical” V-Day gift. Now companies use social media, blogs and videos to try and connect Valentine’s Day with their brand—and it’s working.

This year Revlon has created a “Love Is On” microsite where you can #ChooseLove and post a pic blowing a kiss and tag that special someone. This enters you in a chance to have your picture featured in Times Square on Valentine’s Day.

Although extreme, if you have a casual $30,000 for your Valentine, you can join in on the promotion by ImpactAV and Kinetic Worldwide. They have offered a Groupon for what they are calling a “Valentine’s Day Proposal Package,” which offers a stadium-quality 12’ X 16’ LED screen with animated graphics from Kinetic (including personal selfies, other monumental photos of your romance and some really great copywriting) AND delivered straight to your door. (This is serious, folks…)

In previous years, other industries have hopped on the Valentine’s Day marketing train. Dental Newsweek had this super cute ad they sent out via Facebook that compared love sickness to a root canal. (Easy mix-up when you put it like that…)

Even Clorox found a way to embrace the Valentine’s Day spirit. How does one connect bleach to Valentine’s Day…? They went from kissing to lipstick to lipstick stains to Clorox, of course. 

So embrace the commercialization and spending this love–filled holiday brings because 53% of women said they would end their relationship if they didn’t get something for Valentine’s Day. So good luck!