The mystery surrounding who Saint Valentine
really was is quite fitting to the often-mysterious image surrounding the idea of
love. Most stories peg Saint Valentine as a man who either secretly married Christian
couples at a time when Christians were being persecuted and were unable to do
so, or, he secretly married couples so the husband wouldn’t have to go off to
war. Most of these stories of individuals secretly pledging their undying love end with Saint Valentine landing himself in jail. The only bit of information that seems known is Saint Valentine died on the date we know as Valentine’s Day, February 14th.
The mystery surrounding Saint Valentine and the way we
celebrate a holiday with little knowledge of it, bear shocking similarities
to how we celebrate the holiday with chocolate, sweets, flowers and cheaply
made themed goods. The mystery of how chocolate is harvested and made is a
mystery to most of us; how flowers can be fresh and alive year round and
available especially at grocery stores at such low prices is a riddle we often cannot answer; and that generic gold heart necklace is made by who? is quite the conundrum. Instead of
finding out the truth we often just buy the items in the prettiest package to
give to the person we deem valuable enough to bestow the over-the-top love
themed goodies to on Valentines Day.
The tricky part about Valentines day is it’s not a holiday you find really necessary to celebrate (like preceding Christmas and approaching Easter), yet so many people are
caught up in the adorableness of red and pink hearts, sparkles, and
mini-everything including animals with cute sayings on cards that make you just
want to go “awweeeheeee!”. People indulge in special menus at restaurants priced higher
than normal, establishments who normally don’t cater specifically to couples are
suddenly hosting events and every store is encouraging you to spoil that
‘special someone’ with whatever items they happen to be in the market to sell.
We can get caught in the middle of this awkward area not really knowing what to do and often end up grabbing something last minute because we
suddenly feel the need to participate. When that happens we are ill prepared
to make ethical choices and end up feeling bad for two reasons:
Reason #1:  Did we really just walk into our local grocery
store or super centre and pick up a miniature stuffed
bear/kitten/puppy/gorilla/sloth/fish that sings “My Heart Will Go On” with a
heart shaped box of chocolates strapped to its chest with the sentiment ‘Be My
Valentine’ on it?
Reason #2: We have no idea where anything actually came
from—is that chocolate good to be eating, both for the waistline and the ethics
of the person I bought it for? I just found out a few paragraphs ago that I
can’t even trust flowers! Gold and diamonds are that expensive and there is
still slavery?
We know the facts…
  • There
    are between 27 and 30 million people in slavery today.
  • 78% of victims involved in slavery are in Labor Slavery.*
  • One
    in six children
     5 to 14 years old — about 16 percent of all
    children in this age group — is involved in child labor in developing
  • In
    the least developed countries, 30 percent of all children
    are engaged in child labor.*
  • Worldwide,
    126 million children work in hazardous conditions, often enduring
    beatings, humiliation and sexual violence by their employers.*
  • An
    estimated 1.2 million children — both boys and girls — are trafficked each
    year into exploitative work in agriculture, mining, factories, armed
    conflict or commercial sex work.*
  • The
    highest proportion of child laborers is in sub-Saharan Africa, where 26
    percent of children
     (49 million) are involved in work.
  • A
    million diamond diggers in Africa earn less than a dollar a day.**
  • 60% of
    all flowers sold in the U.S. come from Colombia, the second largest flower
    exporter in the world. The majority of Colombian flower workers receive
    around $8 a day, which is not enough to cover the cost of a family’s most basic requirements.***
  • 66%
    of these workers experience health problems associated with the chemicals
    involved in their work.***
  • An
    ILO Survey conducted in 2000 estimates that 20% of Ecuador’s 60,000 flower workers are
    children. Many of those between the ages of 14 and 18 work in the industry
    instead of attending school.***
…And we also know that being prepared is the key to success!
And yes, even though Valentines Day is right around the
corner *cough-afewdaysaway-cough* you can still take a smidge of time right now
to be prepared!
Tip #1: Research.
When researching for these Ethical Challenge posts I find I
often come across the same information. However, this year a new website popped
up and I couldn’t help but be pleased to see it! World Vision’s No Child For
Sale campaign has a site called On this site they list
brands of chocolate that are fair trade or have other certifications that make
it ethical. Finding this website is like striking gold. So often people have no idea
what to buy or where to buy it. This website does both! Upon investigating
the chocolate options they present, I’ve found a few that I am 100% sold on and
am looking forward to tasting (or tasting again… like Giddy Yo-Yo).
I also found an awesome article titled ‘Valentine’s Day Gifts That Aren’t Evil’. This short and sweet piece provides background
information on the forms of slavery found in Diamonds, Flowers and Chocolate, and
provides ethical alternatives! 
Tip #2: Wait… do you really want to buy your significant other

Take a brief moment and decide if you want your significant other to receive
chocolate from you as a gift? Chocolate may be the generic ‘go-to’ gift but if
your lady or man of choice is say, trying to stay off sugar after the holiday season or is trying to get in
shape before your upcoming getaway in the sunshine, perhaps sugar isn’t the best option…. Just sayin’…
Tip #3: Love Local
After you complete your research on companies you want to support, and have an idea of
what your love may want, find a local place to get it. Also take a moment to
research if any local companies are featuring enchanting options for your sweetheart!
Shoot out some emails to Bakeries or Chocolatiers in your area—what kind of
cocoa do they use and are they offering anything special? I work at a bakery that
provides chocolate goodies that are hand-crafted with organic, fair-trade
ingredients! To top off their awesomeness, they even partnered with
two other local businesses to offer Valentines packages!
Tip #4: Send with Love!
You have an ethically sourced gift of perhaps chocolate and flowers and kisses
and teddy bears and generic all-out, full-fledged love! Now be a dear and send
it with love! Add a cute card, draw a heart on a piece of paper and write I
love you, or add a bow you found in a non-frequented corner of your current place of residence left-over from Christmas.
As the debate to celebrate or not celebrate Valentine’s day continues, remember, you shouldn’t wait for an occasion to tell that special someone how much they mean to you. The kind words you share only during special moments should be spoken often. Love that has sparked in you a fire of passion, commitment, and daily gratitude of being with an individual who always attempts to understand you, continually enjoys spending time with you, and is blessed enough to share with you the joy of life’s adventures deserves to be celebrated every day.
Image found on Pinterest.
* Information from Compassion 
** Information from Brilliant Earth
*** Information from Free2Work