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Marketing At Its Finest. When’s Valentine’s Day?

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Category : Blogs

Like many saints, Saint Valentine himself may well have been forgotten. Yet, he is one of a few whose day is still celebrated. His story of martyrdom is not at all romantic, so why the love hearts?

Geoffrey Chaucer made the first known reference to Valentine’s Day in terms of love in ‘The Parlement of Foules’, which tells the story of a great meeting of birds on the 14th February each year. Traditionally the first day of spring, the birds’ mating rituals begin on this day and they pair up for the year. This is where the association with love stems from.

Now, of course, February doesn’t see the start of spring. Chaucer wrote ‘The Parlement of Foules’ some 200 years before the Gregorian calendar overtook the Julian calendar, when Pope Gregory XIII ordered the change in 1587. The old Julian calendar assumes that the time between equinoxes is 365.25 days, when in fact it’s about 11 minutes less. As it became possible to measure time more accurately, these errors were noticed. Chaucer’s Valentine’s Day would have been closer to the end of February, when spring really is arriving.

So, thanks to a Pope and a great author, by analysing data we can now measure just how commercial this phenomenon has become. Retailers are very good at targeting these opportunities and we can help them optimise their performance with data analysis techniques. But we should also remember the scientific pioneers whose work meant that this celebration of love occurs on this particular day and not in a week and a half!

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