Yesterday was Valentine's Day, the day we celebrate love with hearts and flowers and candy. The actual history behind St. Valentine’s Day is a bit blurry, but there are a few fairly plausible stories about a priest named Valentine that seem to make up the basis for the day. One story tells of how Valentine performed marriages for soldiers in the face of the Roman Emperor’s decree against them (something about soldiers and sex not mixing so marriages were banned). In another story, Valentine was jailed for performing these unlawful marriages, and while in captivity he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter. Before being sent to his death (and becoming a martyr and ultimately Saint Valentine and the man behind this huge Hallmark holiday) he seems to have penned the very first Valentine's Day card by sending her a love note signed “Your Valentine.”
And that's basically all we know about St. Valentine’s Day (and its actually far less than we should considering how fervently we celebrate it), but the history behind Half-Priced Candy in a Heart Shaped Box Day is far less murky. What happened was this: Greedy retailers were convinced that every man and woman on the planet would want to buy their Valentine a heart-shaped box of candy to mark the occasion. These boxes held less candy than their rectangular cousins but could easily be sold at a higher price, especially if adorned with ruffles or fake flowers. So these retailers purchased pallets full of candy, and artfully displayed it in the seasonal aisle between the expensive pieces of folded cardboard bearing messages of eternal love, and the stuffed bears holding stuffed satin hearts trimmed in lace and fancy ribbon.
In the days leading up to February 14 (which MAY be the day that Valentine died, or it may also be a date picked by Pope Gregory, who thought that changing the calendar was somehow the job of the pope), people flock to stores both large and small to spend hard earned cash on cards, stuffed animals, jewelry, underwear, and candy in a heart shaped box. But inevitably, there is always an obscene amount of love bits left over. They can sell the stuffed animals to carnivals as prizes for the Great Water Balloon Race Game, and jewelry is good no matter what the month or day. Underwear never goes bad, and cards can be easily stored for next year. But what’s to be done with all that candy? Yes indeed! Jackpot!
I first started celebrating Half-Priced Candy in a Heart Shaped Box Day as a single girl in my early 20s when I happened into the corner druggists on February 15th and saw the display. I promptly bought one for myself and one for my roommate who was also single and in need of candy. We gorged ourselves on this loveless prize, convinced that it actually tasted better because it was cheap, and there were no expectations attached to it. And since then, every February 15th I have celebrated this most joyous of holidays. Oh, I still buy my Valentine an expensive piece of folded cardboard bearing messages of love and forever, and I still buy a (small) box of full-priced candy in a heart shaped box, but the next day…oh, the next day…
And guess what February 21st is? 75% Off Candy In A Heart-Shaped Box Day! See you at CVS!
Copyright (c) 2009 Leslie R Becker