Valentine’s Day: American Style

Here’s a modern day twist on the traditional message candy hearts. (HD)

In the U.K., it’s very common to get someone else to write out your Valentine’s cards. They’re supposed to be sent anonymously to the object of your heart’s desire, hence the need to disguise the writing.

Brits in the U.S. are often surprised at how massive Valentine’s Day is here, and at the fact that signed cards are sent to parents, siblings, children, teachers, Uncle Tom Cobley and all. In fact, this is the second biggest card-sending occasion of the year, Christmas being the first. According to the National Retail Federation, 2012 Valentine’s spending reached over $17.6 billion, with people spending an average of $126 each, not surprising really since the price of roses more than doubles at this time. Apparently men spend twice as much as women, although women buy most of the cards. (Since teachers receive the lion’s share of Valentine’s cards, that’s also not surprising.)

If you have small school children, you have your work cut out for you. Children typically give each other small paper hearts and cards, lollipops and other crap candy, so if your child is in a class of more than about fifteen kids, it’s a major project. Martha Stewart, queen of crafters, has web pages and books devoted to Valentine’s crafting and I confess her tissue floral heart won me best in show at school a few years ago. Seriously, it’s so easy. You just cut out a large cardboard heart … Oh, sorry. Where was I?

Obviously florists, chocolatiers and retailers do great business in the weeks leading up to February 14, but did you know there’s a 40% increase in divorce filings at this time too? Indeed. And in the true spirit of only in America, the Webb Law Firm in West Virginia generously runs its very own Valentine’s competition:

“The Webb Law Firm, PLLC, will give away one free divorce on Valentine’s Day to the person who, in the opinion of the Webb Law Firm, writes the most compelling story as to why they believe they deserve a free divorce. The free divorce is limited to an uncontested, no-fault divorce with no or minimal child custody issues.”

Looking further afield, I see Russia’s President Putin has jumped on the Valentine’s commercialism bandwagon this year with his gift to the nation. For sheer cheesiness, I announce him the 2013 Valentine’s Day winner.

What are your V-day plans? 



Toni Hargis

Toni Summers Hargis is a British author who has lived in the USA since 1990. Toni blogs as Expat Mum and is the author of Rules, Britannia - An Insider's Guide to Life in the United Kingdom and The Stress-Free Guide to Studying in the States; A Step-by-Step Plan for International Students. She has made frequent appearances on radio and TV discussing US/UK matters.
View all posts by Toni Hargis.
  • Callista Cox

    A “free divorce competition?” As an American I’m not embarrassed to say that I laughed my head off at that. Only in America…so true.

  • GoldenGirl

    I think it’s our most ridiculous holiday. It’s a Hallmark holiday originally meant to be just for lovers but has been blown out of proportion by those who seek to profit from it. I know parents who actually give their children gifts on V.D. So silly!

    Telling people you love them should be a daily occurrence and not saved up for a holiday.

  • catrin

    “In the U.K., it’s very common to get someone else to write out your Valentine’s cards. They’re supposed to be sent anonymously to the object of your heart’s desire, hence the need to disguise the writing.”

    …what? I’ve never heard of that before o.O in primary school we wrote them with our non-dominant hand to make it harder to work out who sent it. I’ve never known any adults who would get other people to write the cards…

  • Loxwood

    I was brought up in England and did send an unsigned cards to girls and later women that I fancied and I was invisible to. That’s the way Valentine’s day should be. The stupidity of giving cards to friends and kids has to an American invention.

  • asfdasfasfd

    Ruth, since you’re an obnoxious nit-picking prat, let me point something out to you. Especially since you adore ridiculing people for “not talking properly” (because the way your country does it — or some within it — is the only proper way on the planet, of course!).

    “THE LIONS SHARE” does not mean “most of a thing”. It means ALL OF A THING. In other word, it’s the lion’s share, because THE LION DOES NOT SHARE. HE TAKES EVERYTHING.

    Look it up, sometime, when you’re not busy complaining about how nice service employees are to you when you’re buying something or eating somewhere.

  • Birdie

    Where I live here in the US, its the exact opposite. Most couples choose not to celebrate Valentine’s Day, or we celebrate very low key. That doesn’t mean that the occasional person will go-above-and-beyond, but most people simply view February 14 as “National Singles Awareness Day”. I guess that’s just where I live though, because I have been told that it’s a bigger holiday in other parts of the USA.