It’s a day that is special to couples and one that shows a special friendship among youngsters, beginning at an early age.

Feb. 14, which was Friday, has long been observed as Valentine’s Day. It also has been called St. Valentine’s Day. The observance has its origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia. Observed in mid-February, the festival celebrated the coming of spring and it had some rather weird rites. Research shows that at the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day. It was celebrated as a day of romance from about the 14th century.

Of note, there were several Christian martyrs named Valentine. Formal valentines appeared in the 1500s and by the late 1700s there have been commercially printed cards. Internet sources said the first commercial valentines in the United States were printed in the mid-1800s.

Traditional gifts, as we all know, include candy and flowers, especially red roses. The day is popular in the U.S., as well as in England, Canada and Australia, and is celebrated in Argentina, France, Mexico and South Korea. In the Philippines it is the most common wedding anniversary and mass weddings occur on Valentine’s Day.

A record day of spending was predicted for this year’s event. People have widened the range of the cards and gifts that are purchased, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Like other retail purchases, the state of the economy has a lot to do with Valentine’s Day spending.

The retail survey by those celebrating the day indicated people planned to spend an average $196.31 this year, which would be an increase of 21 percent over last year. The previous record is $161.96. Spending is expected to total $27.4 billion, up 32 percent from last year’s record $20.7 billion.

The largest share of Valentine’s Day spending still goes to spouses and significant others at 52 percent of the total, or an average of $101.21 this year, up from $93.24 in 2019. It is interesting to note that the share for pets also has doubled, to 6 percent from 3 percent in the past decade. Twenty-seven percent in the survey said they planned to buy gifts for pets, the highest figure ever. Another indication that a “dog’s life” is very good these days!

An observation over the years: Girls are more likely to send Valentine’s Day cards to boys than the young males to the young females. Boys are too shy.

For married men, it is a day that must not be forgotten, experience has proven!