A very happy Valentine’s Day, readers!
How much do you know about this holiday? Do you know much about the origin? I didn’t, and I was curious. Oh, the power of google. Here’s some tidbits!
- Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas.
- Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.”
- Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.
- In Finland Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä which translates into “Friend’s day”. As the name indicates, this day is more about remembering all your friends, not only your loved ones.
- The common symbols of Valentine’s Day in this era are cupids, hearts, roses, teddy bears, and words of adoration.
- The red rose is also the symbol of valentines day because it is a favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. All over the world, over 50 million roses are given for Valentine’s Day each year.
- Children between ages 6 to 10 give more than 650 million Valentine’s cards to their teachers, classmates, and family members.
- According to the survey approx. 3% of pet owners prefer giving Valentine gifts for their pets, as pet are more grateful than humans.
- Verona, the place where Shakespeare’s lovers Romeo and Juliet lived, receives approximately 1,000 letters every year for Juliet on Valentine’s Day.
- The oldest known greeting card in existence is a Valentine card.
- In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who would be their Valentine. They would wear this name pinned onto their sleeves for one week for everyone to see. This was the origin of the expression “to wear your heart on your sleeve.”
- Over $1 billion worth of chocolate is purchased for Valentine’s Day in the U.S.
The Legend of St. Valentine
The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.