10 Fun Facts About Valentine’s Day
When most of us think of Valentine’s Day we conjure images of romantic dinners, lush bouquets of red and pink roses, and giant boxes of chocolates. Celebrated around the world on February 14th, Valentine’s Day is a holiday celebrated annually to express love and affection to those closest to us. But have you ever stopped to wonder how this holiday came to be? Let’s dive into the origins of why we celebrate this romantic holiday by exploring a few fun and interesting facts about Valentine’s Day.
1. The origins of Valentine’s Day are unclear.
Many historians originate Valentine’s Day back to ancient Roman festivals such as Lupercalia, which celebrated fertility and the coming of spring. Cupid, the charming little cherub who shoots unsuspecting lonely men and women with the arrow of love, has roots dating back to Greek mythology in 700 B.C. (resembling the Greek god of love Eros). Others believe Valentine’s Day was created in the Middle Ages as a Christian replacement for pagan celebrations. The most popular theory is that it was named after Saint Valentine, a martyr who lived in the 3rd century. However, it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that Valentine’s Day experienced a large commercial boom evolving into the holiday as we know it today.
2. The first Valentine’s Day letter was written in 1415.
The first recorded Valentine’s letter, written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, was penned in 1415. When he was 21, Charles wrote to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. One of the more famous lines in his love letter reads, “I am already sick of love, My very gentle Valentine.” The letter is currently on display at the British Library in London.
3. Valentine’s Day wasn’t always associated with romantic love.
At the end of the 5th century, Roman Pope Gelasius made February 14th an official holiday called “St. Valentine’s Day.” However, it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that the holiday became associated with romantic love, chivalry, and the expression of passion and affection between members of the nobility. As the holiday became more popular, non-nobility began to celebrate the holiday as well. By the late 18th and early 19th centuries Valentine’s Day became associated with romantic love and the exchange of gifts and cards.
4. The first Valentine’s Day cards were handmade.
In the early days of Valentine’s Day, people would make handmade cards decorated with lace, ribbon, and images of cupids and hearts. It wasn’t until the 1840s that companies in the United States began to mass-produce Valentine’s Day cards. Known as the “Mother of the American Valentine,” Esther A. Howland is credited with commercializing Valentine’s Day cards thanks to her elaborate, creative cards made with beautiful ribbons and lace.
5. The most popular Valentine’s Day gifts are flowers and chocolates.
According to the National Retail Federation, the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts are flowers, chocolates, and jewelry. The first heart-shaped candy box was introduced in 1862 by Richard Cadbury, son of chocolatier and Cadbury founder John Cadbury. Today, upwards of 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sold each year accounting for a whopping 58 million pounds of chocolate. In addition to these traditional gifts, many people get creative for their Valentine’s by gifting bubble baths and bath bombs, spa packages, and even expensive trips. Ultimately, the best Valentine’s gift comes from the heart.
6. Valentine’s Day is a popular day for proposals and breakups.
What better way to commemorate your love than on the most romantic holiday of the year? Valentine’s Day is a popular day for couples to get engaged. According to The Knot, 15% of all proposals happen on Valentine’s Day. Ironically, Valentine’s Day is also a popular day for couples to call it quits. According to recent polls, approximately 15-25% of couples break up on Valentine’s Day or in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day.
7. Valentine’s Day is celebrated differently around the world.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world, but it is celebrated differently in different cultures. In some countries, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate romantic love, while in others it is a day to celebrate friendship and family. For example, in Japan women give men gifts to show their appreciation and love, while in the UAE and the U.S., both men and women give their loved ones gifts on a romantic holiday.
8. 250 million roses are given every Valentine’s Day.
By some estimates, as many as 250 million roses are grown in anticipation of Valentine’s Day every year. Countries such as Kenya, Columbia, and Ecuador grow the flowers and ship them to countries with cooler February climates for the holiday, as roses only grow in warmer temperatures.
9. Valentine’s Day is also celebrated by some animals.
Valentine’s Day is also celebrated by some animals, particularly birds. Many birds, such as the American woodcock, begin their mating rituals on Valentine’s Day. And of course, let’s not forget our domestic furry friends. Every year, people around the world spend billions of dollars on treats and fun squeaky toys for their beloved pets.
10. St. Valentine wasn’t just one person.
Although the origins of the holiday are not associated with any one specific saint, historians do have a few theories as to several saints named Valentine who may have inspired the holiday. One Valentine was a priest in third-century Rome who defied Emperor Claudius II’s ban on marriage by illegally marrying couples in the spirit of love. He was eventually caught and sentenced to death. Another legend suggests that Valentine was killed for attempting to help Christians escape prison in Rome and that he sent the first “valentine” message while imprisoned by writing a letter signed “From your Valentine.”
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