Business Unusual

Why we celebrate a saints day with commercial things to show love

You may have some or all of the following as part of your Valentine’s Day plans.

A fancy restaurant, some flowers and chocolates. Perhaps a cuddly bear with some diamond earrings. It may be some sexy underwear or just a card to say I love you.

These well-known items did not just appear as signs of our love, we were convinced that they were the best way to show our love and this is how that happened.

The restaurant is an invention of the French, Paris, in fact, was the first to offer this dining experience, separate from the taverns and travellers' lodges, these establishments were more sophisticated and offered restaurants as menu items. The word refers to a kind of meat-based broth that would restore the diner. The act of taking someone to be restored has been a popular way to woo a love since they started in the 1700s.

You may be happy to lose your heart for love, but buying flowers at one point could have cost you your shirt. While humans have exchanged flowers forever, it became more of a thing as Europe became more wealthy and were taken with the impressive tulips cultivated in Turkey.

They were grown all over Europe but really took hold in the Netherlands. At one point in the mid-1600s the demand for the flowers and the bulbs sparked a price spike that is considered to be one of the first speculative bubbles. It was not just riches that helped drive demand. In Turkey, flowers became a way to communicate, with each bloom, size and colour having a particular meaning.

Floriography was a hit with the Victorians who would use flowers to do their talking on matters of the heart.

It was no doubt helped by writers like Shakespeare who would use the beautiful plants in many of his plays to endear women and convince men of their wooing powers.

That makes good sense, the language of love with flowers and a feast for all the senses with fine food.

Cocoa trees and humans eating them dates back over 3000 years in South America. When Spanish colonists first tasted it, it was most likely the alcoholic drink made from the chocolate fruit, the delights of the beans came later. Its place as a food favourite was established by the time it was classified and given its Latin name Theobroma, “Food of the Gods”.

Various processes are required to make chocolate including fermenting, roasting, rolling and blending. It takes a lot of beans to make a kilogram of chocolate and it was traditionally an expensive treat. Offering something expensive and tasty was as good bet then as it is now to show and receive affection.

This cartoon inspired the creation of the first Teddy bear.

If you were planning on giving your loved one a teddy bear or similar stuffed animal as a sign of your love, then you have an American President to thank for its popularity.

Theodore Roosevelt was hunting bears in 1902 and was offered the chance to shoot one that had been captured, he refused. A cartoonist sketched the potential scene which gave a stuffed toymaker the idea to make a toy version of the bear and called it Teddy's bear.

Underwear as gifts is quite recent although the term used for lingerie is much older. Originally women would simply buy it for themselves, styles and tastes changed as new fabrics and materials allowed for better fitting, more comfortable and more flattering items to be created.

Men buying underwear became a lot more popular after the founding of Victoria’s Secret in the 70s. Besides actively selling to women, the stores were set up to encourage men to buy items for their partners.

Today global sales exceed $20 billion for all items, with the US surveys suggesting 18% of Valentines give clothing as a gift and it is likely that the clothing is underwear.

The Eureka diamond (now the O'Reilly diamond) is regarded as the first to be discovered in South Africa.

Then there is jewellery and diamonds are at the top of the list. They are most strongly associated with marriage and while engagement did involve gifts before the typical diamond engagement ring and the earliest was hundreds of years ago, the de facto giving of diamonds to show lasting love is more of an invention than a cultural convention.

The reason for most humans giving diamond engagement rings can be attributed to the efforts of the De Beers Diamond mines and some slick marketing in the US. In a comprehensive Atlantic article from 1982, the long and detailed plan and success is explained, thanks to the large diamond discoveries in South Africa and the power of advertising.

Lastly, we come the person or persons that the holiday is named after St Valentine. There are multiple martyrs who may be a part of the name, but the most notable was a roman priest that was found guilty of marrying Christians (which was illegal) and executed on 14 February.

It appears that the popularity of the holiday began with writers including the saint of love in their works. As printing became more widespread the opportunity to give a loved one a greeting card grew, it most likely helped drive the popularity of all the other gifts already listed and while card giving has been most popular until very recently, the ability to send digital versions has all but ended the once popular practice.

So if you are not planning anything perhaps you should, and if the gifts above are not in your price range, a handwritten note to your loved one may be just the thing to respect the original intention of day and remind those you love that you do.


This article first appeared on 702 : Why we celebrate a saints day with commercial things to show love


Recommended

by NEWSROOM AI

CapeTalk welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the CapeTalk community a safe and welcoming space for all.

CapeTalk reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

CapeTalk is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
How Instagram captured the moment

How Instagram captured the moment

An app so simple even Steve Jobs would have been proud.

Serving coffee beans to human beings

Serving coffee beans to human beings

How Starbucks grew a coffee shop into a global brand.

Why breaking up is hard to do

Why breaking up is hard to do

Every business aspires to grow, most want to be the market leader. Why do we sometimes want to stop them?

Biohacking - an industry for creating a new, DIY you

Biohacking - an industry for creating a new, DIY you

So much about our lives has changed in the last 300 years but, as a species, we have not evolved.

How to make over R150 billion in just 10 years

How to make over R150 billion in just 10 years

Get yourself some superheroes and watch the cash roll in.

Could the future of Tesla be a repeat of General Motors' past?

Could the future of Tesla be a repeat of General Motors' past?

A comparison of Tesla to that of General Motors a century ago may have some warnings for Elon Musk.

Popular articles
Here's how to check your load shedding schedule in Cape Town

Here's how to check your load shedding schedule in Cape Town

Stage 1 load s​hedding has been declared nationally. The City of Cape Town has urged residents to take note of the schedules.

Man who dumped body of family dog in street demoted at top JHB law firm

Man who dumped body of family dog in street demoted at top JHB law firm

Media law guru Emma Sadleir warns employees online that there are many potential events that could bring a company into disrepute.

SPARK Schools provides Singapore-quality education for R19 400 per year

SPARK Schools provides Singapore-quality education for R19 400 per year

Our education system is poor, leading to a proliferation of private schools, most which are unaffordable even for the middleclass.

Get ready for another round of load shedding as Eskom workers shut down power

Get ready for another round of load shedding as Eskom workers shut down power

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe says the power utility has instructed municipalities to implement stage one load shedding.

[WATCH] SPCA lays animal cruelty charges following violent attack on seal pup

[WATCH] SPCA lays animal cruelty charges following violent attack on seal pup

Video footage emerged on Facebook showing two fishermen brutally kicking and stabbing the animal.

[LISTEN] Wife of Siya Kolisi 'so proud' as husband Siya leads SA to victory

[LISTEN] Wife of Siya Kolisi 'so proud' as husband Siya leads SA to victory

The Springboks won a Test game against England on Saturday under the captaincy of Siya Kolisi.

UPDATE: Joburg man who dumped dead dog claims there were no vets nearby - SPCA

UPDATE: Joburg man who dumped dead dog claims there were no vets nearby - SPCA

The man has told the Sandton SPCA that he could not locate a nearby veterinary clinic in order to dispose of the dog's carcass.

Eusebius: 'Needing to know what happened before the Supersport video is BS'

Eusebius: 'Needing to know what happened before the Supersport video is BS'

Callers on The Eusebius McKaiser Show stand behind Ashwin Willemse who walked off the Supersport Rugby set on Saturday.