As it arrives not long after Christmas and New Year, the day of Saint Valentine can be met with fears of both a costly and inadequate nature. After all, this is now a billion-pound industry in the UK and the expectation to spend bountiful amounts lavishing your partner with beautiful Valentine's day gifts remains at the forefront of the holiday. Indeed, countless sources have approximated that men spend almost double the amount women do and, as a nation, we show no sign of putting a peg in our spending anytime soon.

In fact, it is estimated that we collectively spend an astonishing £1.3 billion on Valentine's gifts and treats each year across the UK. Not to mention, with an average increase of 1-million-pound year on year, we can only expect this to expand to gargantuan proportions in 2017.

But, where exactly does the loving holiday stem from?


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The History of St. Valentine's

The origin of St Valentine's Day and why we celebrate it year on year has been muddled by time, folklore and the retelling of many a campfire story. But what is most commonly believed, is that Saint Valentine's namesake was a humble priest from Rome born in third century AD. At the time in which he lived, Emperor Claudius II had banned marriage as he believed married men made bad soldiers.

Valentine felt this to be deeply unfair and began arranging marriages in secret. When Claudius found out, Valentine was thrown in jail - but his belief and adoration for love did not subside. There, he fell in love with the jailer's daughter and when he was sent to be killed on February 14th, he signed off a note for his beloved: "from your Valentine." Consequently, Valentine's name became a term with which to express love and devotion for centuries to come.

The Origin of {Love} Commercialism

Way back in the middle of the eighteenth-century, Saint Valentine's Day began to take flight – with lovers in the UK choosing to send tasty sweets and romantic cards adorned with lovely flowers, ribbons and cupid's image. By 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City began mass-producing Valentine's cards; inadvertently kick-starting the love spend revolution, which most of us choose to abide by year on year.


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How We Spend Today

According to research, 1 in 3 adults will choose to participate in St. Valentine's Day but the difference in approach between men and women may surprise you. Whilst many believe women to be the centre of romance, it's actually men who are spending more - with individuals aged 25 – 34 thought to be the most generous; spending an average of £33.

In fact, it is thought that men will spend an approximate £35 on their partner, and 1 in 10 will spend up to £75 or more. Women however, will spend around £20 and on some occasions as little as £10. In fact, statistics from 2015 show that across the UK men spent a total of £622 million compared to just £354 million by women – highlighting not only the difference in spend between sexes but perhaps overall sentiments toward the day itself.

Comparably, in the US, the average American will spend a total of 2.31 dollars. Though the difference in gender spend is still apparent; 0 by males in the States in stark contrast to the spent by their female counterparts.

A poll by US site found that a quarter of men only spend big on Valentine's because they feel obligated to do so and in some cases they are just trying to get into their partner's "good books." Indeed, as a statistic from Statistic Brain claims that 53% of US women would end their relationship over lack of a Valentine's treat, it's not hard to see why. Although, approximately half of male candidates did add that they were looking forward to spending some "quality time" with their partners too.

Admittedly, 13% of women claim to celebrate Valentine's Day just because "everybody else does." But, it could also be argued that today women are largely more independent anyway and as a result, expectation no longer lies explicitly with men. Certainly, this could reflect the reason as to why women spend far less. Men may over-buy to impress or because they have concerns about their partner's overall reaction, whereas women either take care of their own Valentine treats or decide to opt out entirely.

What's more, women are generally thought to be savvier shoppers; more likely to buy in advance, or to take note of potential deals and price-deducting opportunities - such as sales and the use of coupons and vouchers. In fact, over 80% of individuals specified in a recent survey that 'the sales' were crucial to buying gifts – with the three most popular sales items purchased dependant on gender being:

For Men:

For Women:

In the UK we are thought to send out an estimated 25 million Valentine cards, whilst lingerie sales will double and unsurprisingly, jewellery sales will peak around the 8th of February. 75% of men will gift flowers - the most popular being the classic red rose. In fact, 46% of flowers sent on Valentine's Day are of the rose variety. However, all women really seem to want is a romantic getaway with 27% claiming so in a recent survey.


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OnBuy asked 2000 men and women what they would buy for their Valentine after dating for 6 months or less, and this is what we found…

Women Would Buy Men:


Men Would Buy Women:


However, the same 2000 people had very different ideas when asked what they would buy somebody they had been dating for over one year – a relationship classed as 'serious.'

It's clear to see that when it comes to relationships, time spent together definitely ups the spend...

Women Will Buy Men:


Men Will Buy Women:


When compared to other European countries, it appears that we in the UK like to push the boat out a little more than is expected – regardless of gender. In fact, when averaged out, countries across Europe spend far less on their romantic dinner dates than we do...

Spend totals

Around the World

Born from humble beginnings, Valentine's Day has transformed into a consumer's dream – with men leading the way in the UK. However, it doesn't follow suit the world over. In Japan, chocolate companies are said to make half their annual sales in the week leading up to Valentine's Day alone – but it isn't men who are doing the buying. Unlike the UK, it is traditional for women to spoil their male counterparts and, although men do eventually return the favour on White Day, it's interesting to see gender roles reversed.

The people of South Korea take it one step farther. Alongside Valentine's Day and White Day, they also celebrate Black Day (14th April) on which single people will meet to eat black noodles and mourn in recognition of being alone. Whereas over in Finland and Estonia, Valentine's Day isn't really about romantic love at all. Rather, friendship. In fact, in both native languages Valentine's Day translates as 'Friend's Day.'