Oddities and Facts That You Should Know About Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day, the day of love and adoration, right? Not always. In some parts of the world, celebrating the holiday is strictly forbidden, in others the divorce rate spikes.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, not even a little! Many spend the holiday of love full of cheer and happiness. Either way, there is a lot to learn about the day in question. Read our compilation of oddities and facts about Valentine’s Day that we think you should know.
The Origin of Valentine's Day
There are two theories of the origin of the day of love. The first is that Valentine’s Day derives from Lupercalia, a Roman festival that takes place on February 15th. It was celebrated by men getting naked and spanking young maidens to increase fertility
The second theory is that Roman Emperor Claudius the Second planned to bolster his army by forbidding young men to marry. St. Valentine defied the ban and married people in secret and was subsequently executed on February 14th roughly 270 A.D.
Valentine’s Day Was Made a Holiday by the Pope
In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius the First made the feast of Saint Valentine a legitimate holiday. The pope’s hope was that by creating a holiday it would expel the pagan rituals of Lupercalia combining it with St. Valentine’s Day.
This was backtracked in 1969 by Pope Paul the Sixth, who decided to remove it as a major holiday, citing the lack of information on Saint Valentine as reason. However, its religious observance is still permitted as Anglicans and Lutherans recognize February 14th as an official feast day.
The First Valentine’s Day Celebration Occurred in Paris
The first known Valentine’s Day happened in Paris on February 14th, 1400. King Charles the Sixth of France created La Cour Amoreuse or The Court of High Love. The Medieval court was run entirely by women. These types of courts were common in France, Northern Italy, and Spain for centuries.
People would come in masks (for anonymity) and disclose domestic disputes such as marriage contracts, divorces, domestic violence, and infidelity. Generally, a woman who complained of being skimped on a gift from her lover was reprimanded for embracing the spirit of commerce over love.
Millions of Greeting Cards Are Purchased to Celebrate February 14th
145 million greeting cards are exchanged industry-wide each year to celebrate Valentine’s Day. And this number comes from the United States alone! This is according to Hallmark, one of the top-most greeting card companies in the world.
This puts Valentine’s Day only second in greeting card holidays, coming behind Christmas. Perhaps this is why you hear the typical bemoaning of Valentine’s Day being only a corporate holiday? We like to think it just goes to show how much we like to express our love for one another.
Candy Hearts Were Created Thanks to the Lozenge Production Process
In 1847 a Boston pharmacist named Oliver Chase created a mechanism that simplified the lozenge production process. Entrepreneurial and innovative Chase saw the opportunity to profit and revolutionize the candy making business.
Chase shifted from lozenges to candy production with Necco wafers. 15 years later Chase’s brother, Oliver Chase, developed a way to press words onto the candy lozenges with a felt roller pad and vegetable food coloring. 40 years later the conversational candy became heart shaped.
“Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve” Isn’t Just a Phrase
In the Middle Ages, young men and women would draw names to reveal who their special Valentine would be and determine who they would be coupled with for the upcoming year. Once a Valentine was selected, they would wear the name of the person they drew pinned to their sleeves for one week as representation.
This practice was done during the Roman festival honoring Juno. The phrase is still common and widely used, colloquially meaning to be open and honest with one’s true feelings.
Red Roses Have Symbolic Meaning
There’s a special reason that the red rose has come to represent the day of love’s festivities. Cupid, (you know the little guy with the arrow?) is the son of Venus, the goddess of love. I’m sure you can guess Venus’ favorite flower. That’s right, the red rose.
The budding of the rose is meant to represent strong romantic feelings in bloom. It comes as no surprise that this flower is the holiday favorite on the day of love.
How “X” Came to Represent a Kiss
Have you ever wondered the origin of the “X” in “XOXO”? We’ve been using it for so long it’s ritualized, but where does it come from?
Stemming from Christianity, the “X” was representational of the cross in the Middle Ages and used to sign off on documents. After making the mark, the writer would kiss the “X” as a sign of their oath. The gesture grew amongst commoners and kings to certify letters, paperwork, and books. The records were described as “sealed with a kiss.”
Americans are High Rollers on the Day of Love
According to a survey taken by the National Retail Federation, Americans spent a whopping $21.8 billion for Valentine’s Day in 2021. They are projected to spend even more in 2022, a whopping $23.9 billion.
If they do hit that benchmark, that will make this year’s expected spending the second highest on record. The United States is really feeling the day of love with their wallets.
Valentine’s Day Wasn’t Mass-Produced Until 1840’s
A woman named Esther Howland, a businesswoman and artist, is credited with popularizing the Valentine’s Day greeting card in the United States of America. The “Mother of the American Valentine” began to create embellished and crafty cards with lace and ribbons in the 1840’s.
This trend continued and led to the mass-production of the greeting cards, exploding across the United States, and leading to the greeting card industry that we see today.
The First Heart-Shaped Box of Chocolates Came in 1861
The very first heart-shaped box of chocolates made an appearance in 1861 and was created by Richard Cadbury, the son of Cadbury founder, John Cadbury. Richard began packaging chocolates into decorative boxes to drive up his sales.
Cadbury introduced the heart-shaped box on Valentine’s Day 1861. Today, an upwards of 36 million heart-shaped boxes are sold a year. That is 58 million pounds of chocolate.
Nearly 6 million Couples Become Engaged on Valentine’s Day
It should come as no surprise that Valentine’s Day (you know, the day of romantic affection and love) is a popular proposal date for nearly 6 million couples around the world.
According to a survey done by Chillisauce, about which day is the best day to get down on one knee, Valentine’s Day was voted the best day of the year to pop the big question. 40% of respondents to the amorous survey were men.
The Holiday is Celebrated Differently Around the World
Valentine’s Day is celebrated in different ways around the world. In Japan for instance, it is customary for women to gift the men in their life with chocolate the quality of their true feelings of the recipient.
In many Latin American countries, the holiday is known as dia del amor y la Amistad which means day of love and friendship. While flowers and chocolate are exchanged, it is a day to show gratitude to friends.
Lovebirds are Actual Birds
While we use the term “lovebirds” commonly within our everyday speech to indicate two people who seem to be enamored with each other, it is also the common nickname for the Agapornis bird. This bird is a type of parrot that is found on the continent of Africa and found throughout the eastern and southern regions.
Because the African birds are known to travel in pairs they are referred to as lovebirds. The more you know!
There is an Official Valentine’s Day Alternative for Single Folks
Yes, you read that right! There is an official International Quirkyalone Day for single people on February 14th. But don’t go off and think that this is a day for bitter feelings. Apparently, the holiday is not about being anti-Valentine’s Day, rather a moment to celebrate and revel in self-love and platonic relationships.
This eccentric holiday came onto the scene in 2003 and has been celebrated on a global scale ever since. Hey, we can all use more self-love, coupled or not.
William Shakespeare’s Work Inspired a Tradition
Most of us are familiar with Romeo and Juliet written by William Shakespeare about the two star-crossed yet doomed lovers who have come to represent romance within literature.
Writing “letters to Juliet” has evolved into a Valentine’s Day tradition and was even the inspiration behind Letters to Juliet, the film. Thousands of letters are sent to Verona, Italy to Juliet with sentiments full of passion, emotion, and heartbreak. Volunteers read through each letter and a winner is chosen.
King Henry the 8th Created the Holiday
It was in 1537 that King Henry the 8th, the monarch with six wives in his wake—one who died, one who survived, two who he divorced, and two of whom ended up beheaded due to the self-absorbed philosophies, made Valentine’s Day an official holiday.
King Henry of England declared that February 14th be St. Valentine’s Day by royal charter, and so it was.
The Victorians Began the Trend of Flowers for Valentine’s Day
It wasn’t until the Victorian era that men began giving flowers to women in order to woo them. Roses, the most common flower given on the day of love, used to be a lot more expensive than they used to be. This is due to modern flower farms in Ecuador and Columbia.
The cheap labor of these countries mean that roses can be raised and shipped around the world at a fraction of the cost of roses grown elsewhere. And of course, Valentine’s Day is a florist’s busiest day of the year.
"Galentine’s Day" is for the Gal’s
Another inspired holiday stemming from Valentine’s Day is the friendly Galentine’s Day. It was first mentioned in a 2010 episode of Parks and Recreation, which kickstarted a large trend of celebrating platonic relationships on February 14th.
The National Retail Federation claims that since the airing of the Parks and Recreation episode in 2010, friendly gift expenses have nearly tripled on the day of love, now sitting at $1.6 billion. Galentine’s Day is for the gals!
Chaucer Had a Hand in Romanticizing Valentine’s Day
Geoffrey Chaucer, the famed author of Canterbury Tales from the Middle Ages (the 14th century to be exact) made the first reference to Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday in his poem Parliament of Fowls.
The poem was a 699-line poem depicting and celebrating the union between King Richard the Second of England and Anne of Bohemia in 1380. The royal marriage took five years to negotiate, which might explain the length of the poem as well!
Valentine’s Day is a Common Wedding Anniversary in the Philippines
A common practice in the Philippines for couples who are ready to be married but are short on cash are government-sponsored group weddings. This practical solution happens all over the country on Valentine’s Day.
To participate all the couples must do is show up dressed to impress and say, “I do.” Because these mass events are usual, it makes sense that so many Philippine couples share the date as an anniversary.
United States Gained Two Territories on February 14th
Two states became a part of United States territory on Valentine’s Day! The gorgeous and coastal Oregon became the 33rd state on February 14th, 1859, even if all the Oregon state residents were not aware of it. This is due to the slow pace that information traveled, via telegraph, stagecoach, and steamship.
Exactly 53 years later, Arizona joined the United States and became the 48th state to join the union.
YouTube Was Launched
Another historical event that happened on the day of love is the launching of YouTube. Can you imagine a world without YouTube? Luckily, you don’t have to. On February 14th, 2005, three PayPal employees launched their brainchild after struggling to share videos on the internet and conceptualizing a solution.
Chad Hurley, Steve Khen, and Jawed Karim’s first headquarter was in San Mateo, California above a pizza shop. In the modern day, their invention has 400 hours of content uploaded every minute.
Machine Gun Kelly’s Namesake Ordered a Massacre
Have you ever wondered where Machine Gun Kelly got his name? Why, it is after the 1920’s gangster Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn who was in cahoots with the infamous Al Capone.
It was 1929 in Chicago, Illinois when McGurn ordered the assassination of George “Bugs” Moran, resulting in the killing of seven rival gangsters of Capone. The men were gunned down in a garage on the north side. This is referred to as the St. Valentine’s Day massacre.
Around 20% of Pet Owners Gift Their Pets
Valentine’s Day isn’t meant only for lovers. Statistically speaking, around 20% of pet owners take the time to honor their beloved pets as well.
That means that people’s special dogs, cats, bunnies, snakes, you name it, are getting a new toy or treat and made to feel loved and adored.
The Heart Shape Came from a French Manuscript
The heart shape seems to be universally acknowledged as the symbol of love and has for a long time, and without Valentine’s Day coming up we may have never thought twice about it.
However, this wasn’t always the case. The first known depiction of the heart-shape symbol appeared in a 1250’s French manuscript. In it, a young man holds a vaguely pine-cone shaped heart for his lady love to receive. Up until the 14th century, the heart was depicted being held upside down.
The First Valentine Was Sent in the 15th Century
The very first valentine note recorded in human history was sent in 15th century by a French medieval duke named Charles, Duke of Orleans (of course the French had a hand in this aspect of love).
At the time he wrote the letter, he was being held in the Tower of London after he was captured in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The valentine he wrote was addressed to his wife. The note is currently in the British Library in London, England.
Who Receive the Most Number of Valentines?
Can you guess who is most commonly on the receiving end of valentines? It is teachers! And of course, these hard-working educators deserve all of the accolades and adoration of their students.
Remember being in school and writing 30 different Valentine’s Day cards for your fellow peers? We’re sure you addressed more than a few to your favorite educator somewhere along the way, too.
The Strange Message on Candy Hearts
Before Necco began imprinting their candy with messages, they were making fortune-cookie-esque confections that would contain a fortune inside of them. We’d wager to bet you cannot come up with one of the stranger notes contained in one of these cookies.
It read: “Please send a lock of your hair by return mail.” It was most definitely a different time. Can you imagine receiving a text message requesting your hair? We can’t either. Phew.
Candy Hearts’ Messages Change
Each year, the messages written on candy heart change to reflect the time they are occupying. While you used to be able to chew on some “DIG ME,” “GROOVY,” and “FAX ME,” you no longer can!
The candy messages are replaced. For example, in 2015, candy heart creators added “BFF,” (best friend forever) and “PUGS AND KITTENS,” and in 2014 added “OCCUPY MY <3” as a nod to the Occupy movement that was occurring during that period.
February 14th is the One of the Worst Date Nights Out
It isn’t that surprising that Valentine’s Day is one of the worst nights to have a date night out at a restaurant, is it? We weren’t surprised. It sits only behind Mother’s Day as the busiest occasion for restaurants, with people making reservations months in advance.
We might suggest cooking a nice and romantic meal at home this year with your beloved and skipping the crowds, overpriced food, and general to-do!
Valentine’s Day May Be a Relationship Killer
We set aside a day to celebrate love, but it seems that it also causes a lot of reevaluating as well. Data from Facebook revealed that updates with the phrases “broken up” and “break-up” spike immediately following Valentine’s Day.
Perhaps it’s the pressure and forced reevaluation, and finally coming to the conclusion that another year with this person just isn’t going to cut it. While it may not be about romantic love we like to call that self-love!
Women Tried to Eat Themselves into a Marriage
During Valentine’s Day season in the Middle Ages., women would eat a lot of odd and bizarre foods to try and prompt themselves into having vivid dreams. The reason? These dreams were supposed to reveal who their future husbands would be, and they could begin prepping for their romantic future.
Nowadays, having super vivid dreams after consuming strange foods would give us pause, but hey – perhaps they were just way more amorous in medieval times.
Name a Cockroach After Your Ex to Celebrate 2/14
The El Paso Zoo in Texas will do you a solid if you didn’t end things as amicably as you’d hoped and you’re looking to blow off a little steam. The zoo claims that it will accept messages from visitors who wish to name a cockroach after their ex.
The zoo went on to say they will feed it on a live stream for all to watch as they feed said cockroach to a meerkat. It may be petty, but it probably feels pretty good.
People Believed Birds Controlled Women's Love Lives
Aside from the lovebirds associated with Valentine’s Day, there was also a mythos about birds and women. People used to hold the belief that if a woman witnessed a robin flying above her on Valentine’s Day, she would end up marrying a sailor.
Additionally, people believed if she saw a sparrow flying overhead, she would end up marrying poor but would be very happy. Lastly, if she saw a goldfinch flying overhead, she would marry a millionaire, but happily? Unclear.
Valentine’s Day is Not Permitted in Saudi Arabia
Valentine’s Day went from illicit, to popular, to banned in Saudi Arabia. In 2018, Saudi Arabia shops were banned from selling red roses and teddy bears for the holiday.
Celebrating Valentine’s Day was made illegal. The reason? It was deemed a Christian-centric holiday and therefore “un-Islamic” in the nation ruled by Sharia Law. We suppose those in Saudi Arabia will have to find other way and other days to get their love for one another across.
Valentine’s Day Kick-Starts Divorce Rates
Not only does the holiday of love lead to a lot of break-ups, but it also leads to the big “D” (divorce…yikes). CNN money reports that the day after Valentine’s Day, February 15th, kicks off the largest divorce rate for the next month, spiking 18% from the month prior.
So, folks, make sure you write down your special dates in your calendar! You don’t want to end up on the wrong side of Valentine’s Day, do you?
India Doesn’t Ban the Day, but it’s Frowned On
While India isn’t stringent about Valentine’s Day like Saudi Arabia, Hindu extremists in the country are vocal about their disdain for the day. Extremists have threatened to defend their rigid interpretations of Indian culture by attacking those who celebrate the day of love.
Some political parties in India also claim that the day promotes Western values which is not preferred to them, going as far to say that those couple spotted together on Valentine’s Day should be encouraged to wed each other.
Many Choose to Get Married on February 14th
We told you about the endings and break-ups on Valentine’s Day, so how about we share the American average for marriages on the day of love? According to the U.S Census Bureau, it is quite a lot!
The provisional number of weddings on Valentine’s Day for the United States (excluding Georgia) in 2014 stood at 2.1 million. Would you pick Valentine’s Day as your wedding date? Is it cute or commercial? Can it be both? We think so.
People Feel V-Day is a First Date Appropriate Holiday
According to a survey of 1,000 participants put together by AskMen and Offers.com found that 90% of those surveyed felt that Valentine’s Day put a certain pressure on them to be coupled up on the holiday.
However, over half (53% to be exact) felt that going on a first date on Valentine’s Day is totally cool beans! Of those surveyed, 7% said that they would actually use a dating app to find a Valentine’s Day date.