Valentine’s Day Fun Facts
- Valentine’s Day started with the Romans. There are two theories about the origin of Valentine’s Day. The first is that the day derives from Lupercalia, a raucous Roman festival on February 15 where men stripped naked and spanked young maidens in hopes of upping their fertility. The second theory is that while the Roman Emperor Claudius II was trying to bolster his army, he forbade young men to marry (apparently single men make better soldiers). In the spirit of love, St. Valentine defied the ban and performed secret marriages. For his disobedience, Valentine was executed on February 14.
- The heart shape wasn’t always a romantic symbol. Prior to the 14th century, the shape we call a heart symbolized the anatomical heart, widely believed to be humans’ center of memory, according to Time. It wasn’t until Italian and French artists began championing the idea of romantic love that the St. Valentine heart became synonymous with love.
- It’s not the most popular holiday for greeting cards. According to the Greeting Card Association, 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular greeting card–giving occasion, after Christmas.
- Roses are the flowers of love. The favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love? The red rose, of course. The bud stands for strong romantic feelings, so it’s no surprise they make up the most popular Valentine’s Day bouquets.
- “Wearing your heart on your sleeve” is more than just a phrase. In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names to see who their Valentine would be. They would wear the name pinned to their sleeve for one week so that everyone would know their supposed true feelings.
- The chocolate box has been around for more than 140 years. The first Valentine’s Day box of chocolates was introduced by Richard Cadbury in 1868.
- Americans have a serious sweet tooth. According to the National Confectioners Association, about eight billion candy hearts were made in 2009.
8. Money can buy love. The average U.S. consumer spent around $146.84 on Valentine’s Day gifts, meals and entertainment in 2016, according to an annual U.S. National Retail Federation survey. Roughly 92 percent of married Americans with children will spend most of that money on their spouse; the rest goes to Valentine’s Day gifts for kids, friends, coworkers and even pets.
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