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Valentine’s Day 2024: On goat hides and single people

            According to The History Channel, Valentine’s Day had its beginnings in Rome in the 6th century B.C. as part of a pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia. To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would sacrifice a goat for fertility, and a dog for purification. The priests would then take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. The random pairings often ended in marriage.

            Think of it as the 6th century’s version of Match.com.

            Today, women are more likely to be the recipient of a heart-shaped box of chocolates than a slap with a goat hide. (Thanks Richard Cadbury who developed the idea of a heart-shaped box for his dad’s Cadbury Chocolate company in 1861.)

            While we may not know what those 6th century bachelors were giving their new-found love interests, this year spending on significant others for Valentine’s Day is expected to reach a record $14.2 billion, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF). The top gifts include candy (57%) greeting cards (40%), flowers (39%), an evening out (32%), jewelry (22%), clothing (21%), and (for the hopelessly un-romantic) gift cards (19%).                  Of course not everyone will be getting a Valentine next Wednesday – and that is just fine with many.

            Roughly six-in-ten young men report being single, according to the Pew Research Center. Adults under 30 are the most likely group to be single, with roughly (47%) falling into this category. The 30- to 49-year-olds are the least likely to be single (21%). About three-in-10 adults 50 and older say they are single.

            Oddly 63% of men under 30 describe themselves as single, compared with 34% of women in the same age group.

            If you are around many young people today, you may already recognize that old-fashioned dating is on the decline. And the study found “a majority of single adults are not interested in being struck (or even grazed) by Cupid’s arrow.” Among Americans who are single, the largest share – 57% – say they are not looking to change that.

            Whereas in decades past the old cliché about boys chasing girls and vice versa rang true for most, today it’s a different story with single people reveling in their single-lifestyle.

            Respondents to the survey provided a variety of reasons for this desire to fly solo, with “enjoying being single and having other priorities” as the top reasons.

            Single men are more likely than their female counterparts to be searching for romantic experiences. Half of these men are looking for a committed relationship and/or casual dates, while 35% of single women say the same, according to Pew.

            Perhaps not surprisingly, nearly half of single-and-looking adults have turned to online dating in the past year. According to the survey, some 45% of single Americans who are searching for a relationship have used an online dating platform within the past year – the modern equivalent of the Roman urn. It would be interesting to know which had a better success rate for pairings, the algorithm or just pulling a name from a clay pot?

            For those intending to celebrate Valentine’s Day next Wednesday, don’t forget to call your local florist or drop by the Pickens County shops selling sweet treats, clothing and jewelry.                               Whether it’s today or February 14th, it’s always a good time to show those we care about that they are special.

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