7 Things to Know About Valentine's Day

Keep it simple, Cupid.

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Prepare for gift-off: They say money can’t buy you love, but that won’t stop us from trying. Consumers are set to shell out the big bucks for Valentine’s Day this year. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2012 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, the average person celebrating the holiday will spend $126.03, up 8.5 percent over last year’s $116.21, and the highest in the survey’s 10-year history. Total spending is expected to reach $17.6 billion.

Wining and dining: If you’re hitting a restaurant this Valentine’s Day, prepare to pay. According to Zagat’s first Valentine’s Day Dining Survey, 44 percent of couples plan on dining out this Valentine's Day, when the average expected dinner tab comes out to $147 per couple — nearly double what average diners spend on other evenings. Plus, 45 percent of those surveyed plan to drop some dough on a pricey bottle of wine to accompany the meal. And forget about going dutch — only 11 percent of couples split the bill.
Puppy love: Guys and gals aren’t the only ones getting gifted on Valentine’s Day. The average person is expected to spend about $4.52 on their pets this Valentine’s Day, according to the NRF survey. Yes, really.
V is for Viagra: Love — and lust — are in the air on this special day. According to the condom company Durex, condom sales are about 25 percent higher than usual around Valentine's Day. More prescriptions are written for Viagra around Valentine's Day than any other time of year, and more at-home pregnancy tests are sold in March than in any other month.
To tie the knot—or not?: A bevy of celebs have gotten hitched on Valentine’s Day, including Elton John and Renate Blauel; Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid; and Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee — and we all know how those marriages turned out. Still, 4 million Americans expect to propose or be proposed to this Valentine’s Day, according to an American Express survey. While it might be tempting to tie the knot or propose on this special day for sweethearts, 69 percent of those surveyed in Zagat’s Valentine's Day Survey think popping the question while dining at a restaurant is cheesy — so leave your ring at home.
Modern love: Americans’ obsession with electronics is creating new holiday traditions. In 2010, tech-savvy lovers decided against doilies and Hallmark cards to send an estimated 15 million e-valentines. This year, Valentine’s Day celebrants are planning to use their smartphones and tablets to research and purchase gifts. According to the NRF survey, more than half of all tablet owners (53.8 percent) and four in 10 (40.4 percent) smartphone owners will use their device to research products, compare prices, redeem coupons, look up retailer information or purchase products.
Valentine’s Day around the world: The Italian city of Verona, where Shakespeare's lovers Romeo and Juliet lived, receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet every Valentine's Day. In Japan, it’s tradition for women to give men gifts of chocolate on Valentine’s Day. But on March 14, White Day, men are expected to return the favor by gifting their ladies jewelry, white chocolate, white lingerie and marshmallows. In Norfolk, England, a character called Jack Valentine knocks on the rear door of houses leaving sweets and presents for children.
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