Valentine’s Day just ain’t what it used to be

Stephanie Daras shows off her rings from her husband, Marinos
Stephanie Daras shows off her rings from her husband, Marinos. According to local jewelers, engagement rings are not a popular gift this Valentine’s Day.

This year may be a little different.

As usual, flowers, chocolate hearts, and cupids are filling the store shelves at this time of the year. For singles, it’s a time to again be reminded of their inability to find “the one”. For couples, it’s a time to feel the pressure of planning the grand gesture to impress their significant other. For flower shops, card shop, and any company who still send out men in furry bear costumes to embarrass some poor soul at work with flowers, it’s a time for big business. Valentine’s Day is said to be one of the ‘Big Four’ holidays (Christmas, Easter, and Halloween are the other three), in which retailers expect a boom in their sales of the above mentioned items.

But Canadians may be turning off this holiday.

According to the University of Western Ontario’s Faculty of Business library we each spent and about $100.89 on Valentine’s Day in 2006. That number went down to $97.27 last year. These numbers may indicate a steady downfall of Valentine’s Day profits. And it’s not just the numbers that are showing a decrease in the popularity of Valentine’s Day. In fact, some couples are protesting the day altogether.

Amanda Moffat and her boyfriend Ajdin have been together for about three years. They’ve never really celebrated Valentine’s Day and are more than content to keep it that way.

“We try to do special things for each other almost everyday. We have no plans for this Valentine’s Day. It will probably be like any other day. I get flowers at least twice of month, so for us, Valentine’s Day is not a big deal,” Amanda chuckles.

She seems amused at the very notion that people still celebrate the holiday.

Several other dating couples are planning to keep it low key this year.

Colleen Kerr and her boyfriend Jonathan, have been dating for almost two years. Her bright blue eyes light up when she tells the story of how she and Jonathan met, giving the impression that they are still in the lucrative “honeymoon phase” that couples wish they could stay in eternally. Colleen is excited about revisiting the same restaurant that they went to on their first Valentine’s Day. Feeling nostalgic, she shares that Valentine’s Day is only important to her because she remembers it as the day Jonathan told her he loved her.

“A good Valentine’s Day to me is just spending time with the person you love, not the gifts that you receive,” she says.

But it’s not just dating couples who are not overly excited about the hype around Feb. 14th. Stephanie and Marinos Daras will be celebrating their first Valentine’s Day as husband and wife. They were together two years before they tied the knot. Stephanie says that she thinks Valentine’s Day has lost its impact and it has become too commercialized.

“I don’t want to celebrate a holiday because Hallmark tells me to,” Stephanie jokes.

Stephanie says her plans for Valentine’s Day will be to play a decoy with her husband. She is going to Niagara Falls, and for the first time, will be “celebrating” Valentine’s Day with her husband…almost! The Daras will be helping Stephanie’s long-time friend propose to his girlfriend. They will be going to “America’s Honeymoon Capital” where they will go to dinner as a group and then her friend will take his girlfriend away and propose.

“It’s a risky thing, proposing on Valentine’s Day,” Stephanie said warily. “I’ve had a lot of friends get engaged in the past couple of years, but none of them chose Valentine’s Day to pop the question. It’s just too much pressure”

Stephanie may be right. According to Edward, who owns a jewellery store in the Malvern Town Centre, in his 28 years in the business, he hasn’t seen a great increase in people buying engagement rings. He agrees that there is a lot of risk in proposing on Valentine’s Day and that people give flowers more because, unlike rings, they don’t last forever.

“Valentine’s Day just isn’t what it used to be,” Edward said.

Jim Futris did not see that risk when he proposed to his wife, Mary, on Valentine’s Day in 1951.

“He came to my door and he brought me flowers. I remember him being very nervous for some reason, but by the end of the night he was brave and grabbed my hand,” Mary said in her thick Eastern European accent.

Mary, 74, describes their relationship as very romantic from the time they met onwards. Mary says early in their relationship, Jim would always bring her flowers. After they got married, he would show romance in different ways, like taking over the cooking and taking care of their three children. Those small gestures meant more to her than any grand gesture that Jim has ever done.

Jim and Mary’s story, as well the stories of the dating and newlywed couples demonstrate that Valentine’s Day does not have to be a commercialized holiday. Grand gestures (like proposing on Valentine’s Day) and celebrating a planed day of love, aren’t what make a relationship great. Valentine’s Day is about showing appreciation for anyone that you love. So whether you’re single or in a couple, planning a quiet night at home or a grand proposal, remember to take the advice of all of the above mentioned couples. Take Valentine’s Day back from Hallmark and celebrate by showing love to those you care about.