Where did Valentine’s Day come from? Did the card companies make it up? NO! It dates back too far for that. A mix of history and legend dates back to 496 A.D. as the beginning of Valentine’s Day when Pope Gelasius added the feast day of St. Valentine to the Roman Calendar of Saints.
Most of what we know about St. Valentine comes from Legenda Aurea (Golden Legend), rather than from the more reliable Acts of the Martyrs. The legend says that St. Valentine was a priest in Rome during the reign of Claudius, who put out an edict that Roman soldiers could not marry. St. Valentine secretly performed wedding ceremonies for the soldiers and eventually Claudius found out and had him arrested. St. Valentine’s jailer was aware of the gift of healing attributed to the Saint and asked Valentine to heal his blind daughter. The girl regained her sight and became devoted to St. Valentine.
Claudius tried to convert Valentine to the Roman gods and, in turn, Valentine tried to convert Claudius to the Christian God, which resulted in Valentine getting the death sentence. The jailer’s daughter suffered a great deal of grief as Valentine waited in prison for his execution. To bring some relief, St. Valentine asked for pen and wrote a note to the cured girl that simply stated “from your Valentine”.
A more likely association of the Saint to romance can be found in the 1400s when many in England and France believed that birds picked their mates on February 14th, the feast of St. Valentine’s. From this grew the custom of exchanging handmade cards or gifts. In 1847, Esther Howland manufactured the first Valentine’s cards in the United States—so there goes the theory that card companies started the custom of exchanging Valentines.
Today, Valentine’s Day has become a huge event—bigger than we imagine until we look at what days generate the most activity in giving. Mother’s Day is the biggest day for flowers, Easter for candy, and Christmas for cards, but the special day that is number two for all the above is Valentine’s Day. This is why Valentine’s Day can be important to shops in the fashion industry.
Add-on gifts are a wonderful keepsake that constantly reminds the receiver of the warm feelings associated with the special day. Candy, flowers, and dining out are the most popular gifts for Valentine’s Day, but they are not lasting. The little add-on gift is there long after the flowers wilt and the candy is gone.
Valentine’s jewelry rates high for add-on gifts. This season sees new heart pins with sparkling crystals that will stir warm feelings every time this special gift is put on. Fresh designs are available this year so your Valentine jewelry selection can get a new look.
Grouping Valentine’s jewelry and accessories in one display gives impact to your selection and adding some decorations stirs the spirit. Do this for every season and occasion and soon your shop will be the go-to place for special gifts.
I noticed this when I called on shops as a road salesman of wholesale fashion jewelry. When a special day came that called for gifts, some shops had a steady flow of customers that depended on them for the just-right item. The shops were so busy; I had to rush through the jewelry presentation whenever the buyer could take a break. What made these shops so special? They prepared for every holiday or event with a display dedicated to the season and stirred interest with decorations. Of course, this will not be immediate success, but starting and persevering will eventually pay off.
Add some accessories to the display as well. Valentine scarves make a soft and feminine statement with a gift that is very affordable. Affordable is important when thinking about add-on gifts because they are not the main event. They accompany something like dining out that can be costly. Still a Valentine heart pin can make the evening far more meaningful.
If February is cold and snowy, many retailers are looking for ways to generate more income. Give serious thought to special events that can draw customers for Valentine’s Day and draw them back again for Easter and Mother’s Day. Become the go-to place to find gifts for occasions.