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Valentine’s Day

February 14th may not be an official holiday, but Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular on the year’s calendar. Its origins are a mix of legends involving two Christian martyrs, a Roman fertility rite, and the old notion that this is the time of year when the birds choose their mates. What is sure is that Esther Howland of Massachusetts began selling the first mass-produced valentines in the 1840s. Now, Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest occasions in the country’s greeting card shops, candy stores and jewelers. Perhaps the busiest of all are the nation’s more than 48,000 florists, who sell $7.5 billion of flowers each year.

$13.9 billion
Total value of shipments in 2006 for firms producing chocolate and cocoa products. Nonchocolate confectionery product manufacturing, meanwhile, was a $7.2 billion industry.

$416 million
The combined wholesale value of domestically produced cut flowers in 2007 for all flower-producing operations with $100,000 or more in sales. Among states, California was the leading producer, alone accounting for about three-quarters of this amount ($320 million).

Number of jewelry stores in the United States in 2006. Jewelry stores offer engagement, wedding and other rings to lovers of all ages. In February 2008, these stores sold $2.6 billion in merchandise.

2.2 million
The number of marriages that took place in the United States in 2007. That breaks down to a little more than 6,000 a day.

The number of dating service establishments nationwide as of 2002. These establishments, which include Internet dating services, employed nearly 4,300 people and pulled in $489 million in revenue.

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