From boxes of chocolate to diamond jewelry, Valentine’s Day has become a global money-maker, but the day for lovebirds goes way back.
1. Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14.
2. One theory about its origin is that Emperor Claudius II didn’t want Roman men to marry during wartime. Bishop Valentine went against his wishes and performed secret weddings. For this, Valentine was jailed and executed.
3. Another theory is that the day derives from Lupercalia, a raucous Roman festival on February 15th where men stripped naked and spanked young maidens in the hopes of upping their fertility.
4. Many call their sweethearts by the name of the beheaded priest. When St. Valentine was in prison, he prayed with the daughter of one of his judges and cured her blindness. Before his execution, he wrote her a letter, signing it “From your Valentine.”
5. Many wear red on this day because it has long been considered the color of passion and sexuality. The color also symbolizes confidence, spontaneity, and determination, all important factors in a romantic pursuit.
6. In the middle of the 18th century, giving out handwritten notes and other signs of affection was a common Valentine’s Day custom in England. As printing technology improved, handwritten messages soon gave way to ready-made cards.
7. About 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year. This makes it the second largest seasonal card sending time of the year.
8. Doves, of course, are the avian stars of Valentine’s Day, but birds, in general, have a strong association with the holiday. February 14 gained notoriety as the start of the spring mating season for birds, which would help solidify the day’s association with love and romance.
9. If you get a box of chocolates this Valentine’s Day, thank Richard Cadbury. After he and his brother took over his family’s chocolate manufacturing business, he discovered a way to extract pure cocoa butter from whole beans and added it to the company’s chocolate drink. He started designing beautiful boxes for his new chocolates, including special Valentine’s Day ones with cupids and roses.
10. Lovers get top billing when it comes to celebrating Valentine’s Day. But there are plenty of ways to celebrate that don’t involve romantic love… and many people celebrate that way, probably more than you think.
Main Image: Scout Magazine