Amor, liefde, cinta, aimer, yêu, love.

More than 7000 languages are spoken worldwide, all containing a word, sometimes multiple, representing love. But what is love?

Scientifically, Dopamine + Serotonin + Oxytocin = LOVE, but love is much more than a chemical formula. Love is intimacy, passion, attraction, commitment, desire, devotion, happiness, excitement, satisfaction, euphoria, and not always without jealousy, lust, anxiety, stress or rage.

On Tuesday, February 14 – Valentine’s Day – Gippslanders joined the rest of the world in a romantic celebration of love.

Valentine's Day balloon
Gippslanders splurged this Valentine’s Day boosting local business in the process. Photos: Zoe Askew

As couriers delivered infinite numbers of bouquets to unsuspecting workers and romantics gathered gifts for their special someone, the streets of Sale erupted into a sea of red and pink, with accents of green and white, all in appreciation of love.

For 27-year-old, Lauren Connors, owner of Jen’s Flowers on MacArthur St, Sale, Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year – 2023 seeing the florist and her dedicated employees working well through the evening, closing the doors at 12am, as night became morn.

“Valentine’s Day is definitely busy,” Lauren said.

“For our store, having worked full-time with Jen (for seven years) and working with my team now (for the past three years), Mother’s Day is way bigger, but Valentine’s Day is also very big – it’s a lot of prep.

“Anything that is going to be used up in a container; you spend weeks on end prepping all your containers to have a production line of them happening out the back.

“It’s up to me to ensure all our sundries are ordered on time and pre-book all the flowers; usually, we have couriers come up almost every day through the week, but through the busy periods, I want to sight everything, so I drive down to market myself.

“So yeah, there is a lot of prep involved – if you don’t prep, you’re doomed, I say.”

Valentine's Day flower bouquet
Jen’s Flowers was decked out with Valentine’s Day gifts and flowers this year, with staff working until midnight the night of their second busiest day of the year.

While it is unclear exactly how this day when lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts began, formal messages or valentines emerged in the 1500s. Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated worldwide, most prevalent in the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, Argentina, France, Mexico and the Philippines, where February 14 is the most common wedding anniversary, and mass weddings of hundreds of hundreds of couples are not uncommon on the date.

Valentine’s Day has evolved throughout centuries, extending to expressions of affection among relatives and friends, with many of today’s lovers eschewing traditional gifts of chocolate and red roses.

“I think the shift is changing with Valentine’s Day where people are going, ‘you know what, I don’t want to do the red roses, I’m quite happy to do natives, drieds’,” Lauren said.

“Indoor plants are a big thing; I think that’s also a trend. People are loving the boho vibe inside their houses at the moment, so indoor plants are a massive thing.

“People still love, they still want the red roses, teddy bears and balloons, but there has definitely been a shift away from that.”

Dried flowers
While dried flowers are trending as Valentine’s Day gifts, red roses remain a crowd favourite.

Despite the fact Aussies are having less sex than ever before, with a 2020 national survey revealing younger generations are having 50 per cent less sex than their parents, with Gen Z having the least sex of all, business at Jen’s Flowers over Valentine’s Day offers hope that romance is in fact not dead.

“I feel like we get a good mix [of people coming in on Valentine’s Day],” Lauren said.

“I get very surprised every year; I mean, I am a younger generation, and I have a beautiful support network of people in this small community and the younger boys come in, you know, they say “we’ve got to go support Loz and Tom (Lauren’s partner)” and they come and get their roses now, which I love.

“But the older generation, they are so beautiful. We have lovely men from the nursing home that will call us or come in with their helpers to get their flowers; it is so beautiful.

“We love Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day; we put in a lot of hard work and a lot of hours, but when you have the team I have, it’s fun; we have a great old time.”

Lauren Connors smiling in front of balloon wreath on Valentine's Day.
Jen’s Flowers owner Lauren Connors was all smiles on Valentine’s Day. Photos: Zoe Askew

Jeremy Fleming Jewellers on Raymond St, Sale, is another local business that thrives on Valentine’s Day, as lovers peer into glass cabinets at sparking jewellery placed circumspectly on radiant white cushions, deciphering the best piece.

Poppy Fleming, the 19-year-old daughter of Jeremy Fleming, who founded Jeremy Fleming Jewellers almost 30 years ago in October 1993, said Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest periods of the year, on par with Christmas.

“Valentine’s Day and Christmas are always very busy,” she said.

“This year, we had a lot of people who were very organised for Christmas and Valentine’s Day, whereas last year, we had more very last-minute shoppers, so it changes all the time.

“Our laybys have [increased] quite dramatically, with people choosing to pay it off as they go, but you will always get people coming in the night before to come and grab some items.”

Pandora bracelet
Popular jewellery brand Pandora is a go-to for Valentine’s Day shoppers at local jewellers Jeremy Fleming Jewellers.

Among gifting flowers, chocolate, and jewellery in celebration of love, many locals finished Valentine’s Day celebrations by dining out, a popular choice; Smokehouse 81, on Prince St, Rosedale, booking out their two Valentine’s Day sittings in record time.

After posting their special Valentine’s Day menu, a 10-course shared degustation menu, to social media, Smokehouse 81 owners, husband and wife team, Brian and Kristy Thexton, were inundated with responses, booking out the capped 80 seats in less than three hours.

“We couldn’t believe it; pretty crazy,” Brian said.

“We’ve received really good feedback about the menu and the new venue; we recently moved from 81 Prince Street, Rosedale, to 85 Prince Street, which we have been in for four weeks.

“Every special event, we do this shared menu, and it goes really well, and I think we’ve made a bit of a name for ourselves with it because we are booked out every Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

“But three hours; it was incredible; we had booked out with 20 people on the waiting list in three hours.”

Smoked brisket arancini, charcuterie board featuring Rosedale Butchers cured meat, smoked beef short rib with potato gratin and onion and four-point herb-crusted lamb rack with sprouted seed salad, sweet potato puree and roasted swede were among the mouth-watering dishes on the menu for the lucky diners who snagged a seat.

Valentine's Day collaborators The Creative Co. Gippsland and Jen's Flowers
The Creative Co. Gippsland and Jen’s Flowers collaborated on Valentine’s Day 2023, making the celebration of love an authentic experience for shoppers.

In the Gippsland Centre, vivid Valentine’s Day decorations were sprinkled across storefronts as if yelling, “hey, look at me, you know love, yes love, well today we celebrate”.

Valentine’s Day shoppers walked through a stunning pink and red balloon garland by The Creative Co. Gippsland into the fully equipped Jen’s Flowers floristry, retreating arms filled with gorgeous flowers and gifts to deliver to their loved ones.

Whether you are a lover or hater of the worldwide commercial day of love, for whatever reasons that may be, you could not deny that love was in the air walking through Sale CBD on Tuesday, February 14.