Updated on February 7, 2017
This month, people everywhere will exchange cards, flowers, and gifts – all in the name of St. Valentine. Want to know more about the “patron saint of love” and the day that bears his name? Check out these Valentine’s Day fun facts.
The History of Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is a popular social holiday that celebrates love, romance, and friendship. But what’s the story behind the day? How did it all begin?
Some sources say King Henry VIII of England declared the first Valentine’s Day in 1537. Others cite an earlier time, when a Roman named Valentinus showed heroic love for God and 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. Although it bears the name of a Christian martyr, it has Roman pagan origins. Keep reading for more Valentine’s Day fun facts.
7 Valentine’s Day Fun Facts
In modern times, Valentine’s Day is more of a secular holiday than a religious observance. It’s a day that celebrates love and affection. And in the United States, it’s the most commercialized holiday after Christmas and Halloween.
However you choose to celebrate the holiday (chocolate truffles, anyone?), here are seven Valentine’s Day fun facts to read and share.
1. The Valentine Legend
The Catholic Church recognizes three saints named Valentine. The man that 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” the 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 the names pinned to their sleeves so everyone would know their “true love.”
According to Smithsonian, the “wear your heart on your sleeve” idiom 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 SWAK acronym often adorns 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 some health benefits related to this sweet treat. 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 when eaten in moderation. The organic chemicals in cocoa beans (flavonols) help 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. And most of these men buy red roses for the women they love.
7. Be My Valentine
Valentine’s Day is the second-most popular greeting card occasion after Christmas. Statistics show that Americans exchange 145 million Valentine cards every year.
Do you exchange Valentine cards with your loved ones? Vintage valentines are my favorites. I try to include a Bible verse about love, like this one:
“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” (John 3:16).
And Now, Over to You
Thank you for reading my post. Now it’s YOUR turn to chime in and show off your trivia knowledge! What Valentine’s Day fun fact can you add to the list?
Let’s fill the comments with friendly conversation and expand the list above. Scroll to the end to leave a reply, ask a question, or just say hello.
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