Can’t buy me love

Why money doesn’t make Valentine’s Day

The northern shrike spears prey in an attempt to attract a mate.

Photo by Callie Lugosi

Valentine’s Day has long been the day for couples to show their affection for each other and singles to renounce love forever. Whether it be with roses and chocolate, stuffed animals or champagne, the holiday honouring St. Valentine is the time of year to show you care – at a huge profit for all those candy and flower shops.

According to Stats Canada, in 2016, Canadians spent $224 annually on candy and chocolate, most of that being purchased around Valentine’s Day. Money during the holiday is also spent on wine, dinner reservations, flowers and jewelry. Around 190 million greeting cards are distributed every Feb. 14.

This makes for an expensive holiday, especially for university students. Is it really necessary to spend all this money to show affection?

Fortunately not, according to Marina Adshade, professor of economics at the University of British Columbia. Adshade, who specializes in the finance of love and relationships, says it’s better to make presents meaningful and personal instead of sticking to clichés.

“It’s better to make it personal,” Adshade says. “Valentine’s is for showing someone you know them.”

Catering to one’s partner results not only in a meaningful holiday, but it can also mean not spending hundreds of dollars on expensive dinner reservations and champagne. A present with personal or sentimental value can be more financially doable – and also more emotionally rich and worthwhile.

“There’s a cost to getting to know somebody,” Adshade says. “Make it specific to the individual.”

There is no shortage of unique ways to celebrate the holiday in Winnipeg. This year, all sorts of unconventional places are getting into the romantic swing of things, including the Manitoba Museum, which is hosting After Hours: Wild Romance, an event for adults.

The event is described as a chance to see how romance is done “in nature.” Offering both couples and singles the chance to partake in activities like tango lessons, a mating ritual dance and a scavenger hunt, the event gives guests the chance to see how animals do romance in the wild.

Corinne Antoniuk, the museum’s learning and engagement producer, describes the event as “romance elevated.”

“It’s a chance to be part of something … (and) learn something, too.”

After Hours: Wild Romance is a unique and interesting way to spice up Valentine’s Day without breaking the bank. Participants even get to learn about plant and animal mating rituals in nature. For those who prefer tradition, the museum will offer chocolate and flowers, just in the form of roses frozen with liquid nitrogen.

“It’s flowers and chocolate with a twist,” Antoniuk says.

It’s good to have a twist when it comes to romance. Valentine’s Day isn’t just about Hallmark cards and jewelry anymore. Whatever one’s budget may be, there are fun, romantic ways to celebrate this Feb. 14. The only thing left to do is to find loved ones and share it with them.

After Hours: Wild Romance takes place on Feb. 14 from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Manitoba Museum. Admission is $12 for museum members or $15 for non-members.

Published in Volume 73, Number 18 of The Uniter (February 14, 2019)

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