Valentine’s Day might have begun with a hit and not a kiss. Some historians believe the holiday is loosely tied to Lupercalia, a Roman fête that was held between February 13 and 15. During the festivities, women lined up for men to slap them with the hides of freshly skinned animals in an attempt to ensure their fertility. How romantic!
Though the origins of Valentine’s Day are debatable, many centuries later we know the holiday as something sweeter. And more chocolatey. And women, who used to be at the receiving end of some strange rituals, are now the ones who get the most out of Valentine’s Day, financially and emotionally.
Using SurveyMonkey Audience, we surveyed over 300 people to learn the differences between how men and women approach Valentine’s Day. So get ready for some scintillating statistics, which will probably go down a lot easier than those chalky-tasting little hearts.
But first, who celebrates Valentine’s Day?
Before we get into our differences, let’s take a look at who’s celebrating this year. You may hear people call Valentine’s Day a “Hallmark holiday” or “too commercial,” but if you’re honoring your sweetie on the 14th, you’re in good company:
According to our results, 72% of people who have a significant other are celebrating Valentine’s Day this year. (Tweet this.) And it’s not just for people who are dating or maybe trying to make a good impression on a potential life partner. Even when we broke it down by marital status, 72% of people who are married or in a civil union said they’re celebrating this year.
What about couples who aren’t going to celebrate? Is romance dead? Well most non-celebrators pointed to finances or sentiments that they don’t need a special day to express their love for one another. (Aww.)
“Money is tight,” we heard. But also: “Because he always forgets.” (Ouch!)
But does love grow fonder over time? Alas, no. People who said they’ve been together for one year or less are the most likely to celebrate Valentine’s Day (80%). And really, whoever you are, it’d be pretty bad form to go into a relationship assuming that Valentine’s Day doesn’t matter to your sweetie.
We also heard that Valentine’s Day is “Just for kids.” But the age group that’s least likely to celebrate includes people from 30 to 44 years old, at 60%. That’s 14% lower than average. What might people between 30 and 44 have that others don’t? Well, according to our results, at 67%, they’re also the most likely group to have children under 18. (Tweet this.)
Different priorities? Less money to spend? Kids quashing the romance?
Whatever the reason, if you don’t have anyone to celebrate with this year, you may want to consider giving the gift of babysitting to couples with kids. And speaking of people who aren’t currently in a relationship, although the majority of them said they’re not doing anything special for Valentine’s Day, 37% of singles will be sharing the day with someone–and that someone is most likely a family member (25%).
How do men and women spend on Valentine’s Day gifts?
So that’s who’s celebrating. But are they going to be spending the big bucks? We asked people how much money they’re going to spend on gifts–and how much they expect their significant other to spend on them.
When we crunched the numbers, our survey scientists recommended we calculate the median (50th percentile) instead of averaging the numbers because we had a couple of unusually large figures (in the thousands of dollars!) that skewed the results. Glad our Surveys 101 training came in handy!
Regardless of marital status, men reported that they’ll spend $100 on their significant other, while women said they’ll spend $50. And when it comes to how much men and women expect their significant other to spend on them? Men expect to receive gifts totalling $5 and women expect $50. (Tweet this.) If you want to look at it another way, men expect to receive 95% less than they’ll spend, while women are banking on an even trade.
What do men and women expect to receive for Valentine’s Day?
So what’s on people’s shopping lists this year? Well, it’s not all candies and jewelry:
The most popular gifts this year are a meal and a greeting card. (“Other” responses mainly included “dinner”–which aligns with “a meal.”) And when we compared responses by gender, the data told us men are most likely to buy their significant other a meal and flowers, while women are most likely to spend on a greeting card and meal.
But do these purchases match up with what people expect to get from their significant other? When asked the question, “What do you expect your significant other to buy you for Valentine’s Day this year?,” women said they expected to receive a meal (47%) and flowers (47%).
So if you’re a man–and you’re buying for a lady this year–it looks like you’re getting it right. Or maybe Valentine’s Day gift-giving is less of a mystery and more of a lesson plan.
In any case, the iconic box of chocolates has certainly taken a backseat to other edibles, at least when it comes to women. But not for men. When it came to what men expect this year, the second most popular answer was candy, at 7%. The most popular answer? A greeting card (47%). If you’re stressing over what to buy for a man this year, put away your wallet. Men don’t seem to want much–or at least they said they don’t. Lowered expectations? Not a day for them?
Here’s a nifty word cloud that reflects some of men’s thoughts on Valentine’s Day:
(Whoops. Looks like not all news is fit to print.) When we compared what men and women had to say about the holiday, all people tend to think of Valentine’s Day strongly in terms of “love,” “heart(s),” and “commercial,” but women have more positive associations:
As you can see, women think of Valentine’s Day as more about “fun,” “friendship,” and “happiness,” rather than it being a “waste,” “fake,” and “unnecessary.”
And really, it is more about what men don’t need. When asked, 47% of men responded, “I don’t expect my significant other to buy me anything for Valentine’s Day.” (Tweet this.) Meanwhile, only 14% of women said they don’t expect a gift.
All-in-all, if you’re not sure a) What to get for your lovebird this year and/or b) If they want anything at all, let the data be your guide. But perhaps the number one way to figure out if you’re celebrating this year? Just ask.
And for all you lovers of visual data out there, here’s a special treat we whipped up just for you.
Want to run your own Valentine’s Day survey? Get started today. And tell us about what you found below!