Economic downturn, schmownturn. The sentiments of love and giving have survived wars, revolutions, and even recessions. Then again, to be journalistically correct, so have hatred and selfishness, but since this is Valentine's Weekend, we won't focus on the latter.
According to scholars at The History Channel, one of the most popular Valentine stories is of a priest who performed religious wedding ceremonies against the order of Emperor Claudius II. The ruler believed that unmarried men were better soldiers, so he reportedly had Valentine put to death.
As the legends grew and recognition of the day evolved, gifts of love and sacrifice between loved ones grew in popularity over the centuries.
Even with financial institutions closing, local auto dealers faltering, and retail shops closing, North Floridians are still looking for meaningful and creative ways to express sentiments to their sweethearts.
Here are three local ideas:
Gift Glam for Guys' Girls
The state’s Agency of Workforce Innovation says Jacksonville’s metro has an unemployment rate of 11.3 percent. With this in mind, one small business owner wants to help wannabe cupids who are full of love, but low on cash.
Carrie Left, a Jacksonville native and owner of Glam Candy, is giving back. Her super trendy three-year-old accessory stores are giving away Valentine's Day gift sets to unemployed men.
"One of our long time customers stopped in to do a little shopping in our San Marco store. During her visit, she shared that the turn in the economy had changed things for her family and that is why we had not seen her in a while. Her husband used to stop in from time to time and buy her little sparkling tokens and then I realized that he had not been in lately either."
Staying true to her tag line, "GC is Love...pass it on", Left turned to her husband and partner, Mark, with an idea. Together, they decided that each Glam Candy location would give away 25 gift sets on Valentine’s Eve. The packages include perennial favorites, a necklace, a bracelet, and a pair of “sparkly” earrings.
"I just thought it might be nice to give some that are a little less fortunate a gift to give to someone they love," says Left.
For more information on giveaway qualifications, and to see more items available for purchase, visit Glam Candy's home on the web.
Another budget-friendly option is a movie night. Opening nationwide today, Valentine's Day is the latest romantic comedy from director Garry Marshall. With mixed critic reviews, most agree this film, featuring a who's who of Hollywood, is date-friendly.
Visiting a local theater also allows you to support local jobs. For about $30.00, a Jacksonville couple can enjoy a first-run motion picture and snacks.
Casa de Cupid
You're fortunate enough to splurge a little. Perhaps an intimate one-night stay at the historic Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine will pierce your lover's heart.
The hotel's one-night package includes a dozen roses, complimentary champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries, and more. For information and availability, visit the Casa Monica online.
From greeting cards to precious gems, what began as an act of religious defiance has evolved into a cross cultural phenomenon celebrating the gift of love.