The facts of life: the culture of love

Tuesday 23 September 2008 00:00 BST

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


In 2002, the American Film Institute named the 1942 classic Casablanca as the greatest movie love story. Gone With The Wind came in second place, followed by West Side Story.

The most romantic movie line? According to a poll by DVD rental firm, it's: "I'm scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I'm with you" as Jennifer Gray told Patrick Swayze in the coming-of-age film Dirty Dancing.

And the most romantic song? The tune most often chosen by couples for the first dance at their wedding is Bryan Adams's (Everything I Do) I Do It For You.

A Mills & Boon paperback is sold ever five seconds in the UK.

If you're looking for romance, then you have a better chance of succeeding if you pay to use an internet dating site rather than relying on meeting someone through your work or friends. A poll of 10,000 married couples found that 19 per cent had met on the web, while 17 per cent got together through work and 17 per cent were introduced through friends.

Flowers are the most popular gifts bought for Valentine's, according to the market research company Nielsen. Six per cent of all flower sales occur over Valentine's fortnight and 12 per cent of all rose sales for the entire year are sold at that time of year that is, about 12m worth of flowers over the fortnight building up to the day.

Ignoring ever-changing fashions, brides continue to hanker after traditional wedding gowns. In 2005, the average price of a traditional wedding gown was 826 and the value of the traditional wedding dress market had reached 112m, according to Mintel. And despite some 46 per cent of women believing that weddings had become too commercial and expensive, over half of them still wanted a traditional dress.

One of the most glamorous nightwear items has always been the neglige and sales are booming. Although negliges account for just 4 per cent of the nightwear market, it is outstripping rival garments, having grown by some 18 per cent in the past five years, while the pyjama market has grown by just 7 per cent.

On Valentine's Day this year, consumers spent 16.7m on champagne and a further 10.5m on sparkling wine, according to Nielsen.

The American card retailer Hallmark first offered Valentine's Day cards for sale in 1913 and began producing them in 1916. This year it offered its customers a choice of more than 2,000 different Valentine's Day card designs.

Love spoons were traditionally carved by young men as a token of love for their sweethearts. The earliest surviving example of a love spoon, displayed in the St Fagans National History Museum near Cardiff, dates from around 1667, although it is thought that the tradition probably dates back long before that.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in