Editor's note: Peter Chi is a research fellow at the National Image Research Center of Tsinghua University. The article reflects the author's opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
Valentine's Day is approaching and people in many parts of the world are getting ready to lighten their wallets for their loved ones. Eating out, buying presents, chocolates or flowers for their significant others have become a tradition on this particular day. It is definitely the day of love in the West and has also spread its roots to the East.
Originally, Valentine's Day was celebrated in the West to honor Saint Valentine from Rome, who was imprisoned and executed for performing illegal weddings for persecuted Christians. But nowadays it has become a special day for retailers, who eagerly look forward to an increase in sales on this day.
Flower prices skyrocket, film tickets are sold out and restaurants are fully booked. Valentine's Day has definitely been changed into a commercial event where you can prove your love with gifts and flowers.
The National Retail Federation of America estimated that spending on the day in the U.S. this year will increase by 6 percent to 20.7 billion U.S. dollars, compared to last year's 19.6 billion U.S. dollars.
However, the number of people celebrating Valentine's Day continues to decline, down from 55 percent in 2018 to 51 percent in 2019.
The strong economy is one of the major reasons for the increase in spending. But why fewer people are celebrating is still unclear.
Americans, on average, are estimated to spend 161.96 U.S. dollars on Valentine's Day. In comparison, the average Chinese people spent 274 U.S. dollars last year.
In China, Valentine's Day is popular in big cities and urban areas with many commercial events. Chinese have adopted the Western tradition of exchanging gifts and some even decide to get their marriage certificate on this day.
Chinese people have to dig even deeper into their pockets for their loved ones because there are two Valentine's Days celebrated in China every year. One is celebrated on February 14 and the other is the traditional Chinese Valentine's Day, also known as Qixi Festival, which is celebrated on the 7th Day of the seventh lunar month.
It is difficult to determine the exact time when Western Valentine's Day was introduced in China, but Chinese people have been celebrating the Qixi Festival for thousands of years based on the romantic love story of Niu Lang, a cowherd, and Zhi Nu, a goddess from heaven.
Be it in the West or the East, Valentine's Day is supposed to be an occasion to express love and should not descend into a commercial event. An exquisitely prepared meal sometimes carries more weight than expensive flowers on this very day.