Updated on February 7, 2017
This month, people will exchange cards, flowers, and gifts – all in the name of St. Valentine. Would you like to know more about this “patron saint of love” and the day that bears his name? Keep reading for some fun facts about the sweetest day of the year.
The History of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is a popular social holiday that celebrates love. But what’s the story behind this day? How did it begin?
Some sources claim that King Henry VIII declared the first Valentine’s Day in 1537. Others cite an earlier time, when a Roman named Valentinus showed heroic love for God and the Church. Still others point to the holiday’s pagan roots.
According to History (an American television network), Valentine’s Day began as a religious holiday. It bears the name of a Christian martyr but has a Roman pagan origin.
7 Valentine’s Day Fun Facts
Today, Valentine’s Day is more of a secular holiday than a religious festivity. The theme centers on love, affection, and friendship. In the United States, Valentine’s Day is the most commercialized holiday after Christmas and Halloween.
However you choose to celebrate (chocolate truffles, anyone?), here are seven Valentine’s Day fun facts for you to enjoy and share.
1. The Valentine Legend
The Catholic Church recognizes three saints named Valentine. The man we remember on Valentine’s Day was martyred February 14, AD 278.
The stories about him vary, and the truth behind them is murky. But the Valentine legend affirms his appeal as both a heroic and romantic figure.
2. Historical Pagan Roots
Valentine’s Day likely originated with a pagan party called Lupercalia. The ancient Romans celebrated this annual fertility festival on the Ides of February (mid-month).
It is also likely that Valentine’s Day was an attempt by the Catholic Church to “Christianize” Roman pagans. The Church used the occasion to peg the raucous party to the Valentine legend.
3. Your Heart on Your Sleeve
In the Middle Ages, unmarried men and women drew names to discover their Valentine. For one week, they wore those names pinned to their sleeves so everyone would know their “true love.”
According to Smithsonian, the “wear your heart on your sleeve” phrase may have originated with this tradition. Other sources credit the expression to William Shakespeare.
4. Sealed With a Kiss
The link between kissing and the letter “X” may have ancient origins. The 24th letter of our modern English alphabet has long been a Christian symbol.
Blind and illiterate people used the symbol to sign their documents – then kissed the signature as a show of sincerity. Sealed with a “kiss of faith.”
Over time, “X” began to signify a different kind of kiss – one that is romantic in nature. Today, the phrase “sealed with a kiss” means written or sent with love. The initials SWAK often adorn love letters.
5. Box of Chocolates
Richard Cadbury introduced the first heart-shaped box of chocolates in 1861. Decades later, in 1907, Milton Hershey introduced chocolate “kisses” in the shape of teardrops. So began the marriage of chocolate and Valentine’s Day.
As chocolate consumption grew in Europe and America, doctors discovered health benefits related to chocolate. Victorian era doctors even advised patients to eat chocolate for a “broken heart.”
Today, chocolate is a popular Valentine gift AND a heart-healthy treat – in moderation. The organic chemicals in cocoa beans (called flavonols) lower the risk of heart disease.
6. Flowers of Love
Roses are the flowers of love. American florists sell and deliver 200 million roses on the days leading up to Valentine’s Day.
Statistics show that men make up 73 percent of Valentine flower sales. Most of them buy red roses for the women they love.
7. Be My Valentine
According to greeting card statistics, Americans exchange 145 million Valentine cards every year. This lovely holiday is the second most popular greeting card occasion after Christmas.
Do you exchange Valentine cards with your loved ones? Vintage valentines are my favorite cards to send. I like to include Bible verses about love, such as John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
And Now, Over to You
Thank you for reading this post. Now it’s YOUR turn to chime in. What fun Valentine’s Day fact can you add to the list above?
Here’s your chance to show off your Valentine knowledge! Let’s fill the comments with friendly conversation. Scroll to the end to leave a reply, ask a question, or just say hello.
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