Image

Pat Kramer Awarded 2019 Woman of the Year, 28th Congressional District, Sunland-Tujunga

When news happens, that’s when I tell my clients to issue a news release (also known as a press release or media release) to properly share news about themselves, their firm, or their company. As a press release writer, publicist and all-around PR and branding expert, it is absolutely essential that you take credit where credit is due. 0therwise, how will anyone know about your accomplishments?

On that note, today I issued a press release on my Woman of the Year award representing my community of Sunland-Tujunga in the 28th Congressional District. I am told that my award has been entered into the Congressional Record and will permanently be listed there for all to see – pretty nice for a little ‘ole PR person and news journalist like myself!

Should you have a question about whether or not you should issue a press release, I will take your call or respond to your email and validate whether it will help you or whether it’s best to hold off.

And now, my news story:
After a career of 40-years as a news journalist, PR writer for ad agencies and companies, and as a content and branding writer, it’s very nice to receive this honor from one of my personal mentors: 

Pat Kramer Receives Woman of the Year 2019 Award From Congressman Adam Schiff

LOS ANGELES, May 08, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Writer For Hire® Pat Kramer today announced that she was recently awarded Woman of the Year 2019, Sunland – Tujunga by Congressman Adam Schiff. Each year, Congressman Schiff names women in each of the communities in his district, to receive this lauded award in honor of Women’s History Month. Now serving as the chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Representative Schiff is in his 10th term in the House of Representatives. Kramer, who operates Writer For Hire® in Los Angeles, is a ghostwriter, memoir writer, and a content marketing and PR branding specialist.

At a luncheon held on April 16, 2019, Representative Schiff honored each of the 13 inspiring women he chose stating, Today, I met with remarkable women from my district who have all worked tirelessly to make our communities a better place,” said Rep. Schiff. “It was an honor to recognize their outstanding work in the 28th District. These women have worked to found or support a myriad of charitable organizations and given so much of themselves to improve the common good. They are all pillars of our communities and I thank them for their invaluable service.”

In his tribute to Ms. Kramer, the Congressman talked about her contributions to her community of Sunland – Tujunga, located in the northeast corner of Los Angeles, saying, “I rise today in honor of Women’s History Month. Each year, we pay special tribute to the contributions and sacrifices made by our nation’s women. It is an honor to pay homage to outstanding women who are making a difference in my Congressional District. I would like to recognize a remarkable woman, Pat Kramer of Sunland-Tujunga, California.

“Pat Kramer is a communications expert who creates original content for business and corporate entities for their marketing, outreach and public relations efforts. For over thirty years, she has worked as a consultant to companies and as a freelance journalist for many prestigious newspapers, magazines and industry publication. 

“A dedicated volunteer in her community, Pat’s activities include over thirty years of participation in the Sierra Club, Angeles Chapter, where she has held leadership positions and advocates for issues affecting the quality of life in the foothills.

“Additionally, while serving two terms on the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council, Pat has led many efforts on behalf of her community. These include: completing the decade-long creation of Oro Vista Park in Sunland, leading efforts to improve the safety of residents as the chairperson of the Safe Traffic & Transportation Committee, and creating and co-chairing the STNC’s Emergency Preparedness Day which included 15 vendors and City agencies.

“In addition to her outstanding work in the community, Ms. Kramer is passionate about animal rescue work, serving on the STNC Animal Issues committee and playing a leading role in promoting the City of L.A.’s Department of Animal Services’ Volunteer Animal Officer program.

“Born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, Pat credits her grandparents, immigrants from the Ukraine and her parents with teaching her good values, instilling in her the importance of hard work, and encouraging her to follow her dreams.

“I ask all Members to join me in honoring this exceptional, well-respected woman of California’s 28th Congressional District, Pat Kramer.”

Media Contact:
Pat Kramer
818 353-5699
pat@writerpatkramer.com 
https://www.writerpatkramer.com

Animal Lovers Pull Together for an Abused Dog

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

For more info. please contact:

Pat Kramer, (818) 353-5699

Pat@writerpatkramer.com

 

Los Angeles (February 10, 2010) – “Toto,” a 7-year old Chihuahua/Schipperke mix, spent his life tied up in a locked garage before a neighbor alerted L.A. City Animal Control.  He then spent another five months sharing a kennel with three other dogs at the West Valley Animal Shelter before a concerned dog lover noticed him and initiated a massive media campaign to find this dog a home.

Writer For Hire Pat Kramer spotted the 14-pound Chihuahua mix with the ‘huge eyes’ last November while visiting the Shelter to adopt another dog.  At that time, “Toto” was on the shelter’s ‘Green List,’ one step away from being euthanized.  Due to being kept in the dark for so many years, his little eyes bulged from exposure to sunlight.  But according to the Shelter’s staff, he was one of the sweetest, most loved dogs there.

Pat recalls, “With the number of dogs needing a home, I was afraid he might get ‘put down’ before I could help him.”

When she returned to adopt him a few weeks later, Toto had kennel couch and was not expected to survive.  However, a few weeks later, he pulled through and on January 5th, Pat began fostering him at her home until a permanent home could be found.  “I was intent on seeing this through,” she says, “no matter how inconvenient it might be.”

To help her along, the local animal rescue foundation, New Leash on Life, pitched in donating a sleeping crate for Toto.  To help socialize him, Jami, a local animal trainer, began teaching him basic social skills.

Over the next few weeks, Toto’s photo and story were posted by on Facebook, Craigs List, and animal rescue sites: New Leash on Life, Second Acts Foundation and Pet Adoption Fund with  Animal Control Officer Gabi Hartel and Mae Ross of 321 Talent Showcase helping with the postings.  Through these efforts, thousands of people were acquainted with Toto’s plight and on January 26th, a local family adopted him.

Today, as a result of many people working together, Toto is now a ‘pet’ for the first time in his life.  No longer tied up or left alone, he has a family to love.

Says Pat, “In the process of helping this little guy, I became aware of the many wonderful people out there who give of their time to rescue unwanted pets.  These people are real ‘saints’ for what they do!”

She adds, “For those who can adopt, please do so now. It’s so critical that these animals get some help.  The love you get back will more than compensate for your costs — and as we know– no act of kindness goes unpaid, especially as it relates to animals.”

Addendum: In April 2017, Pat learned that Toto passed away recently from a heart condition. But during the six years that he lived with his “forever family,” Toto was one of the most loved pets, ever. He grew to love his “little sister,” a Chihuahua, and had a fenced yard to play in and a bed to sleep on inside his family’s San Fernando home.

–       ###-

Pat Kramer, a freelance writer living in Los Angeles, is the founder of Writer For Hire® and a proponent of animal rescue work and charities supporting humane treatment of animals.

Writer For Hire® Pat Kramer to Share Life Journey with Los Angeles’ Inner – City High Schoolers

Media Inquiries:  For more information, please contact: Pat Kramer

818 353-5699 pat@writerpatkramer.com

Los Angeles, CA (March 23, 2016) – Writer For Hire Pat Kramer, a veteran business copywriter and ghostwriter, today announced that she will share highlights of her 30 year career journey with inner city high school students at Oscar de la Hoya High School on Wednesday, April 20 and at Animo Inglewood High School on May 18th.  The two, one hour presentations are in partnership with the Youth Business Alliance (YBA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses on bringing critical 21st century business skills and perspectives into the classroom. Pat will be presenting tips on how she went from a “wanna-be writer” in high school to a professional journalist and corporate copywriter in Los Angeles.

The Youth Business Alliance invited Ms. Kramer to share her experiences and achievements over the time she has built her career in an effort to provide high school students with a broader perspective of what it takes to be successful. The YBA was formed in 2012 with one disadvantaged school and has since grown to include 14 high schools serving roughly 350 disadvantaged students each year through its year-long after school course “Introduction to Business & Careers.”

Pat started her career as a radio news broadcaster and journalist working for radio stations in New England. To get her foot in the door of this incredibly limited and competitive industry, Pat had to work every shift around the clock, including all-night at one radio station in Newport, Rhode Island and then a split-shift at the next where she covered both “morning drive time” and “afternoon drive time.”

“I have never worked as hard in my life as I did at the start of my career,” says Pat, who notes that hard work and determination are the winning formula for anyone starting out in the job market. “Most people in their early ‘20s opt out when the going gets tough, but I stuck with it and advanced in my career to the point where I eventually got to call the shots.”

Looking back on her career of 30+ years as a news writer, ghostwriter, and marketing and public relations consultant, Pat believes the challenges she faced led to a tenacity that has helped her succeed in business when other writers have closed down their shops. “I believe all the challenges I have had to face ultimately gave me a wealth of experience in life and now, I’m giving back by helping the youth of today get started on their own career path.”

Speaking before the public is not new to Pat. Over the years, she has presented workshops and seminars for business leaders in a wide variety of industries on how to better communicate their branding messages by using news-oriented press releases, professionally-written articles for trade publications, and blogs on the social media. Pat is a recognized business leader and an active member of her business community in Sunland-Tujunga. She is also an advocate for humane treatment of animals and the ghostwriter of several books and memoirs.

For more information, please visit: www.writerpatkramer.com

About Writer For Hire 

Writer For Hire® Pat Kramer specializes in developing informational, editorial, promotional and ghostwritten content for companies and individuals all over the world. Her press releases have helped first-time authors reach “best seller” status on Amazon.com, while her media outreach campaigns have elevated formerly unknown business professionals to “thought leaders” in their industries. Known as Writer For Hire® since 1990, Pat has written more than 1,000 articles for local, national and well respected industry publications.

 

 

Write About Your Experiences

          When I was a young woman in college, my journalism professor asked me to write about a life experience that had influenced me to choose my major in Mass Communications. I remembered how moved I was, as an elementary school student, in reading about the life of Anne Frank as written in her diary during WWII. Anne’s honesty about her feelings and experiences, living with her family and neighbors in close quarters, hidden behind a wall, captured my interest and imagination. It was from that experience that I decided to become a writer.
           So my question to you today is: what experience do you recall from your past that acted as a motivator for you to do what you now do for a profession? Was it a person, an event, someone you met or spoke to, saw in a movie, read about in a book or article, or was it some other influence that touched your heart?
           We all have life experience from the work that we now do and that life experience makes for good stories. Telling a story is the best way to capture the attention of your audience as it brings to life an experience that others can relate to or learn from.
           The next time you are thinking about writing a blog, just think of a life experience that you had or are having — and then write about it.
            If you need help in putting your thoughts on paper, I am always happy to collaborate with others to capture the essence of what they are trying to express. Writing for me is a labor of love. Please contact me if you have any questions about something that you would like to write – for business or personal use. I’m always willing to listen and provide feedback.
            For more information, please visit: www.writerpatkramer.com or email: pat@writerpatkramer.com.

What Makes You Different or Better Than Your Competition?

This morning I attended an interesting presentation by Eloqui, which is a consultancy that helps business people improve their speaking presentations. As part of a group of 30 or so business people, I was asked to recall from my background anything that could have contributed to my success in my career as a writer for businesses.

I thought about it and recalled that, as early as 8 years old, I loved to read. Not only did I love to read, but I also loved to write. Reading expanded my vocabulary and writing helped me put into action the words I was learning from the many authors I read. Consequently, I learned to love stories about people, their lives, their experiences, and their difficulties and challenges. Mostly, I loved reading about how people had overcome their challenges and learned to use them in ways that were truly inspiring.

My interest in reading and writing led me to Emerson College where I graduated with a degree in Mass Communications. I then used my education to land a job as a radio news reporter – and later as a print news journalist – to tell people stories. That’s essentially what news journalists do: they tell stories about what they see, hear, or experience. Of course, there’s a formula that we have to use in distilling that information to the public, but broken down in its simplest terms, I learned how to tell stories about my subjects, both as a writer and a speaker.

Today, I use my love for story telling in writing about my clients: their accomplishments, their challenges, how they solve problems for their clients, and how they use their experience in unique ways to differentiate themselves (and their companies) from their competition.

Today’s exercise was a valuable one: it reminded me why, as Writer For Hire, I am unique and different from other writers in my field. I know that if you are reading this, you also can use your experience, challenges, and love for what you do in your business.

Writer For Hire Pat Kramer is a business writer, ghostwriter, and social media pro with 30 years’ experience in the news media and as a business writer and marketing/PR strategist. For more information, please visit: www.writerpatkramer.com.

5 Tips to Get More Traction on LinkedIn

I’m frequently asked by those who have service and product-oriented businesses to provide some tips on how to make LinkedIn more effective as a marketing and promotional tool. As someone who’s reaped the rewards of LinkedIn on multiple occasions, I’m often seen as somewhat of a LinkedIn ‘expert.’ It takes time to really get to know how to use LinkedIn’s many free tools (and even more time if you are a Premium member). So to save readers having to spend their precious time learning what I already know, I’m sharing 5 helpful tips today to give you ‘a leg up’ as you use the world’s leading social media site for business.

But first, I want to tell you my story: When I first got on LinkedIn back in the early 2000’s, I set up my profile and began making connections, and then… I waited for something to happen. After about six months went by and nothing really changed, I began wondering why LinkedIn wasn’t working. Given that I didn’t know much about using LinkedIn, I then decided to research it further by taking live and online classes on social media marketing. With that knowledge, I then started applying what I had learned to my own business as a content, marketing and public relations writer and author.

Those lessons paid off because it got me to invest time in setting up my own professional profile and then creating a strategy for connecting with others and initiating my own PR and marketing efforts using LinkedIn. Here’s what I learned – maybe it can help you too.

  1. A professional LinkedIn profile is of utmost importance. If your profile is incomplete, not written to engage or impress the reader or doesn’t highlight your experience, hire someone to write it for you. This is the very beginning of your journey into LinkedIn and every eye is going to be focused on your profile.
  2. Connect with anyone who you know from business, past and present.  This should include any organizations that you have been affiliated with, any charities that you serve, and people who you meet at networking events.
  3.  Communicate with others:  Those who you accept as connections are now part of your Circle of Influence. Think of them that way and value the connections that they may have for generating business in both directions. Start by looking at who they are connected with and seeing if you have any common connections. After you connect, write them a short response thanking them for connecting and asking them to stay in touch if you can help them in any way.
  4. Post weekly:  On LinkedIn, you can post ‘updates’ or ‘posts.” Posts are the same thing as blogs – LinkedIn offers you a free blog site to write and share your content. Once you post your blog, wait a few days then post it again as an update. The update section is great for sharing news about your business or your industry. You can also share stories that others in your company have written to strengthen your overall company marketing campaign.
  5. Be a part of the virtual community.  There are those people who sit on the sidelines and those who are out ‘front and center.’ Be one of those people who are front and center. By engaging with others, even to share short items of interest, you will be getting your name and your company ‘out there’ for others to see and remember.  Keep in mind that repetition is the main component in any marketing campaign. Be present for your LinkedIn connections and serve them as a resource – even if it’s as a ‘free resource’ right now. In time, that may change.

 

For help with setting up a professional LinkedIn profile, writing content for your company blogs, or generating press releases to showcase your accomplishments, please visit: www.writerpatkramer.com or email: pat@writerpatkramer.com.

LAPD’s “Top Brass” Address Residents at Sunland-Tujunga Police Town Hall

LAPD-Badge-LogoOn Thursday, March 24, 2016, several of L.A.P.D.’s finest came to Sunland-Tujunga to address growing concerns about transient and drug crimes as well as drag racing and other issues. The event was sponsored by Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council Safety Chairperson Nina Royal and was held at the Elks Club on Commerce Avenue. Guest speakers included: Commander Chamberlain, Homeless Coordinator for the City of L.A.: LAPD Lieutenant Solano, who oversees gangs and narcotics; LAPD Transportation Officer Flores and Captain Eskridge.

Commander Chamberlain opened the meeting by telling residents that a new law came into effect 2 or 3 years ago which prevents police from going through transient encampments and confiscating their belongings. However, there is now a proposed law before the Los Angeles City Council #56.11 which would allow police and sanitation to go through the possessions of homeless when they are left out in the open. Currently, a team known as the “Reset Team” goes to transient cleanup sites along with Department of Sanitation to identify bioenvironmental hazards that may exist in cleanup sites.

Commander Chamberlain mentioned that many homeless do not want short-term housing, that they are “service-resistant.” Due to a homeless advocate lawyer, who has created legal roadblocks for police, the homeless are well protected here in California. He pointed out that being homeless is not considered a crime. He added that it is in fact not humane to enable human beings to live in tents and he suggested that handouts of clothing to the homeless is actually creating a larger issue with trash accumulations.

Captain Eskridge spoke about the LAPD Transient Car that focuses specifically on transients committing crimes. In order to support police investigations, he suggested that businesses and residents install video cameras, so if a crime is committed, there is proof to prosecute them. He added that today’s technology is very inexpensive and can provide very good quality surveillance for properties.

Lieutenant Solano spoke about how his work involves reducing the number of violent crimes that go hand in hand with gangs and narcotics so he can rebuild the community’s trust. He gave a report on what is going on with the local gangs in the Sunland-Tujunga area and how crimes have been reduced. Out of 18 previous marijuana dispensaries in the Sunland-Tujunga Foothill area, only a few locations now operate.

LAPD Traffic Officer Flores of the Community Traffic Safety Unit then reviewed stats on the number of traffic incidents in the Valley last year: Out of 17,000 total, 1,600 were in Sunland-Tujunga and 5 involved fatalities. That number is now up to 13 fatalities for 2016.

Residents questioned how to deal with illegal street racing, a big issue for our community. Police are spread thin right now, but residents were told to report it to LAPD and they will respond as soon as possible. As with any police activity, it’s always best to report the incident to the police and let them investigate instead of trying to resolve it yourself.

Important phone numbers to call to report crimes: “911” – for emergencies only.

For Non- Emergencies:

GANGS, DRUGS: Lt. Carlos Solano: 818-897-6081, 26339@lapd.lacity.org

NARCOTICS: Det. Travis Coyle, 818-834-3136, 33128@lapd.lacity.org

TRAFFIC: Officer Joel Flores, (818) 644-8142

General LAPD # – 818 834-3115 / Anonymous Tip Line – 800 222-8477

I Found a Way to Give Back

Pat teachingOn April 20 and May 18, 2016, I will be sharing my 30-year career journey as a news journalist, corporate/business copywriter and publicist with high school students at two, underserved Los Angeles high schools: Oscar de la Hoya High School in South L.A. and Animo Inglewood High School. In doing so, I hope to impart to these idealistic young students that the next ten years (at least) of their lives are going to involve hard work and sacrifice. And while they will question the need for giving up their free time and putting in this level of effort, it will all pay off in the future because it will provide them with the dedication, determination and discipline they need to be successful at whatever they choose to do.

My two presentations are in partnership with the Youth Business Alliance (YBA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses on bringing critical 21st century business skills and perspectives into the classroom. In an effort to provide high school students with a broader perspective of what it takes to be successful, The Youth Business Alliance invites business leaders to share their experience and achievements. The YBA was formed in 2012 with one disadvantaged school and has since grown to include 14 high schools serving roughly 350 disadvantaged students each year through its year-long after school course “Introduction to Business & Careers.” When I started my career as a news broadcaster and radio news reporter right out of college, I had stars in my eyes: That first month, I got to meet and interview Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia who were in Newport, R.I. for the America’s Cup Races. I also got to interview American icon Ginger Rogers who was humble, gracious and patient with me.

But that first year was also a time of sacrifice. I had the midnight to six a.m. shift at radio station WOTB and in addition to having to be there six nights a week (Monday – Saturday), I also had to cover City Council/Town Council meetings in three towns before I went to work. Then just 21 years old, I often felt lost, lonely, and displaced from everyone I knew and had a hard time making connections in that affluent seaside resort community, so I threw myself into my work and that became the focus of my life.

That same discipline followed me to the next radio station and the next. For most of the next ten years, I worked every shift around the clock: afternoon drive time (1 p.m. – 7 p.m.), morning drive time (5:00 a.m. – 1 p.m.), both morning and afternoon drive times (split-shifts), weekends, afternoons, evenings, and finally, as the News Director for a small radio station in Massachusetts.

Eventually I decided to get out of radio altogether. I moved to the West Coast in 1988 with the dream of writing for a number of entertainment publications. I managed to do that but found out that they didn’t pay enough to make a living, so I also began working as a writer for a number of public relations firm. In 1990, I started my own business as Writer For Hire® and also freelanced for the Los Angeles Business Journal, Variety, Boxoffice, Entertainment Weekly, Insurance Journal and a number of corporate outfits.

What I have found is that it is never easy to build your dreams – it always involves sacrifices and hard work, but overall, it pays off by giving us the opportunity to do the kind of work that we love. Today, I have clients who I value, who hire me because they need my expertise, they respect my work ethic and they pay me for my time.

Looking back, I’ve never worked so hard in my life as I did at the start of my career, but I believe all the challenges I have had gave me a wealth of experience in life and a tenacity to succeed, when other writers have had to close up shop or take other jobs. Now, I have the opportunity to help today’s youth get started on their own career path and it’s my time to give back.

Writer Pat Kramer specializes in developing informational, editorial, promotional and ghostwritten content for law firms, real estate and insurance companies, the travel and hospitality industry, and a wide variety of business professionals and potential authors. Her press releases have helped first-time authors reach “best seller” status on Amazon.com, and her media outreach campaigns have elevated formerly unknown business professionals to “thought leaders” in their industries. Known as Writer For Hire® since 1990, Pat has written more than 1,000 articles for local, national and well respected industry publications.

As a speaker, Pat Kramer has led workshops and seminars for business associations and organizations for the past 20 years, helping them to improve their branding messages by using news-oriented press releases, professionally-written articles, and informational blogs on social media. Pat is a recognized business leader and an active member of her business and civic community in Sunland-Tujunga. She is an advocate for the humane treatment of animals and the ghostwriter of several books and memoirs.

For more information on Writer For Hire®, please visit: www.writerpatkramer.com.

To learn more about Youth Business Alliance, go to: www.youthbizalliance.com.

 

There’s No Time Like the Present to Create a Marketing Plan

marketing wheelIn business, it’s always important to have a marketing plan. What is a marketing plan for, you ask? A marketing plan starts with honestly examining what you are currently doing to affirm and promote your business, and just as importantly, what you not doing or what is not working.

At this point you may feel your stomach muscles tightening as you say the question on every business owner’s mind: “So how much is it going to cost me?”

The answer is “surprisingly, less than you thought.” Yes, the cost for a marketing plan will be an almost insignificant expense but the value of it will be that you will have an immediate sense of understanding about what it is that you can do to immediately begin seeing results.

Last year, I revamped my own Writer For Hire website and optimized it for mobile devices. Feel free to take a look at www.writerpatkramer.com or visit my Writer For Hire Facebook page. Remember, being active on the social media will lead to more referrals. If you would like a one hour tutorial on using LinkedIn (a $225.00 value, but $195.00 for a limited time), please contact me.

As I celebrate my 26th year as Writer For Hire®, I’m committed more than ever to helping my business clients become more successful by creating content for marketing and publicity. I’m here to help you with any writing efforts or challenges you may have.

Writer For Hire® Pat Kramer, pat@writerpatkramer.com, (818) 353-5699 PST

VALENTINE’S DAY: IT’S NOT JUST FOR COUPLES

The History of Valentine’s Day and What It Has Come to Mean Today 

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that most people observe due to its popularity in our culture. But where did it begin and why do we set aside the date of February 14th each year for this observance?  That is the question I aimed to answer in researching this holiday tha170px-BigPinkHeartt is now widely observed worldwide.

Historical references of a Valentine’s Day- like holiday during February go back to Ancient Greece which celebrated the month of Gamelion from mid-January to mid-February in honoring the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera. Meanwhile, in Ancient Rome, a celebration of fertility was taking place at the festival of Lupercalia, February 13–15.

Valentine’s Day or “Saint Valentine’s Day” actually dates back to the early Christian era in Ancient Rome with a liturgical celebration of Saint Valentinus who was martyred for ministering to Christians and secretly providing marriages for Roman soldiers, who were prohibited to marry.  In Slovenia, Saint Valentine or “Zdravko” later became the patron saint of beekeepers and pilgrims in association with good health and the season of spring. Saint Valentine is also celebrated as the patron saint of Lebanon by a large portion of the population.

Chaucer is Commonly Associated with Valentine’s Day Being an Observance of Love

About 1,000 years later, English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote “Parlement of Foules” in 1382:

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day, Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

[“For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”]

That poem is attributed to the creation of the holiday of Valentine’s Day as a testament to romantic love.

The Holiday Originates in England and Then Comes to America Through Worcester, MA Artist

The trend of exchanging hand-made valentines started growing in England in the 18th century then grew to include gifts of flowers and confectionaries. When Worcester, Massachusetts artist Esther Howland received an ornate valentine from a business associate of her father’s in 1847, she decided to begin producing her own with imported lace and paper from England.  Her business quickly grew as the trend expanded with her earning $100,000 a year from her small business. Esther, a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College, has since become known as the “Mother of the American Valentine” and my hometown of Worcester, MA is known as the “Heart of the Commonwealth,” with a heart as its official symbol.

During the 2nd half of the 20th century, gifts like roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate also became popular for Valentine’s Day. In the 1980’s, the diamond industry joined the fray by promoting Valentine’s Day as a time for getting engaged and for special jewelry purchases.

Today, the Greeting Card Association estimates over one billion paper valentines are exchanged each year in the United States with teachers receiving the most highest percentage. Digital communications have further expanded Valentine’s Day as e-cards and love coupons have become available.

How Other Countries Celebrate Valentine’s Day

In many Latin American countries including: Mexico, Columbia, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, Valentine’s Day is known as “El Día de los Enamorados” (Day of Lovers) or as “Día del Amor y la Amistad” (Day of Love and Friendship). In Guatemala, “Día del Cariño” (Affection Day) is celebrated on February 14th while in other countries, both Día del Amor y la Amistad and the Amigo Secreto (“Secret Friend”) are celebrated together.

Since 1992, India has partaken in the holiday. This trend has actually changed the very old customs regarding displays of public affection more than any other ritual since the Middle Ages. Russia, too, observes Valentine’s Day now and has since the fall of the USSR.

Of the Asian countries, Singapore is noted to have the highest expenditure for Valentine’s Day gift giving, followed by South Korea and China.  Japan, Taiwan, China and South Korea celebrate the holiday with women giving gifts of chocolate to men, who then reciprocate by giving chocolates and other gifts to women on “White Day,” celebrated March 14th.

In the Philippines, Valentine’s Day is called Araw ng mga Pusò (“Day of Hearts”) and is celebrated in much the same manner as in the West.  In Spain, Wales, Scandinavia, Romania, Portugal, France, Finland and Estonia, Valentine’s Day is often celebrated as a romantic holiday.

Where NOT to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Traditional Hindu and Islamic countries oppose the practice of Valentine’s Day, believing it to be cultural contamination from the West. These countries include Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and parts of India. In 2014, religious police in Saudi Arabia were reported to have arrested five men for celebrating St. Valentine’s Day in the company of six women. The Buraidah criminal court pronounced sentences totaling 32 years’ imprisonment and 4,500 lashes to the men.

Do You Have to Be “In Love” to Celebrate?

For a long time, singles were stigmatized by the Valentine’s Day holiday, feeling ‘left out’ of the celebration or sometimes seeing it as a failure in the romantic department.  As the holiday has taken on more of a commercial glare, it’s important to note its origins as a celebration of the spring, of birds finding their mates, or as a good time to plant crops. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with chocolates, roses, greeting cards — or not at all, the sentiment of love and appreciation is what this holiday is really all about.