Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Is it possible to be a cheapskate on Valentine's Day (and live)?

One poll circulating in the British press showed that 78 percent of women surveyed would most treasure a love letter or poem. In China, while11.3 percent of respondents said some sort of handmade gift is their favorite, an equal 11 percent reported a preference for diamond jewelry.

(Page 2 of 2)

And even in France, which scored the highest in romance in the poll (only 10 percent of them would prefer their pet), the desire for something simple abounds. One French woman in the 16th district of Paris says her husband’s Valentine habits track all over the map. “Take me to a restaurant; je suis très contente,” she says.

Skip to next paragraph

Although the biggest Valentine’s Day news in France is the reported gift by Angelina Jolie of a 200-year old olive tree for Brad Pitt, to grace their $50 million Chateau Miraval home in Provence, our correspondent’s informal survey shows that perfume is the most marketed option. Purchasing simple cakes and tarts that couples plan to share together is also popular.

A US export - but we love it

In many countries, Valentine’s Day is seen as an American export, and one to begrudge. But some countries still have a romantic notion of Feb. 14. In Canada, a study by MasterCard Canada showed that the great majority of men and women (81 percent of men and 93 percent of women) give gifts because they want to, not because they feel that they have to.

A Zogby study shows that men (31 percent) are more likely than women (18 percent) to spend more than $50 this Sunday – which is not surprising given the marketing of Valentine’s Day as a “woman’s day.” “Valentine’s Day is very gendered in the sense that it is the man that gives the woman gifts. The man is to be the provider, the woman the recipient,” says Ms. Hughes.

But even there, change is under way. A survey by the dating website showed that 55 percent of men want to hear “I love you” on Valentine’s Day vs. 45 percent of women. And even in macho Mexico, a survey by the consumer industry watchdog showed that it is actually the nation’s men who care more about the holiday. Fifty-two percent of women plan to celebrate Sunday, versus 65 percent of men. But here women do want gifts, not just displays of love: chocolate, flowers, or some other detail.
*Peter Ford in China and Robert Marquand in France shared their region’s cultural views for this piece.


For more on love and marriage, check out American attitudes toward fidelity.

Follow us on Twitter.