Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! In just a few weeks, millions of folks will be lining up to surprise their sweetheart with beautiful bouquets and tasty chocolates. But, have you ever wondered why February 14th is designated as a day of love and devotion? Well, we have some answers! Without further ado, here are 14 fun facts about Valentine’s Day:
1. Valentine’s Day originates from a Pagan festival.
There’s some dispute about the true history of Valentine’s Day. One theory is that the holiday derives from an Ancient Roman fertility festival, known as Lupercalia. This pagan celebration was actually quite savage. Animals were sacrificed, and their skins were used to whip women in an effort to stimulate their fertility.
The other theory is that during the reign of Claudius II, young men serving in the Emperor’s army were strictly forbidden from marrying. In an act of defiance, and in the name of true love, St. Valentine is said to have performed marriages in secret. According to legend, he was later executed for his crimes on February the 14th.
The day was later declared “St. Valentine’s Day” by Pope Gelasius in the 1300’s, becoming an accepted Christian holiday.
2. Handing out Valentines is an ancient tradition.
Surely you remember passing out Valentine’s cards to all of the kids in your elementary classroom. Believe it or not, this custom is over 600 years old. The first known valentine was sent in 1415 by Charles Duke of Orleans, who wrote his wife a poem while locked away in the Tower of London.
3. ‘Vinegar Valentines’ were sent to ward off unwanted suitors.
Beginning in the early 1840s, it wasn’t uncommon to receive a “vinegar valentine.” Rather than messages of love and adoration, vinegar valentines were intended to insult their recipient. Typically sent to ward off an unwanted suitor, vinegar valentines contained exaggerated caricatures and mean-spirited musings. One example from the early 1900s taunts a man for his incurable baldness. Though most vinegar valentines were light hearted, others could be quite offensive.
4. Millions of Valentine’s Day cards are purchased each year.
Second only to Christmas, Valentine’s Day is the most popular holiday for exchanging greeting cards. According to Hallmark, roughly 145 million greeting cards are sent each year for Valentine’s Day, and that’s just here in the United States. Teachers are said to receive the most cards during Valentine’s Day, with wives, mothers, and children following closely behind.
5. Candy hearts started as medical lozenges.
Candy conversation hearts are a Valentine’s Day staple, with fun and flirty messages like “Be Mine” or “Call Me.” What most people don’t know is that these iconic heart shaped confections were originally supposed to be medical lozenges. In 1847, Boston pharmacist and inventor, Oliver Chase, created a machine that could quickly produce medical lozenges. Upon realizing the potential of his invention, Chase shifted his attention to making candy instead. He’d later found the New England Confectionary Company, better known as Necco.
6. Valentine’s Day is a preferred time to get engaged.
What better occasion to pop the question than a holiday devoted to love and romance? It’s estimated that nearly 6 million couples get engaged on Valentine’s Day each year. In fact, a 2017 survey conducted by diamond retailer, James Allen, found that most millennials prefer to get engaged on Valentine’s Day over other holidays, like Christmas or New Year’s.
7. Valentine’s Day is celebrated worldwide.
Valentine’s Day is a holiday that’s celebrated in countries around the world, including England, Mexico, Japan, and many others. In most Latin American countries, the holiday is known as el día de los enamorados (day of lovers) or día del amor y la amistad (day of love and friendship). In addition to celebrating romantic relationships, people will perform various acts of appreciation for family and friends.
In Japan, it’s the women who do most of the gifting. In defiance of former cultural norms, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for Japanese woman to freely confess their feelings, known as kokuhaku. Every year, on February 14th, the women in Japan shower their loved one with chocolates and other gifts. It may seem strange, and a bit unfair, but don’t worry—the men make up for it. A month later, on March 14th, the Japanese celebrate “White Day.” On this holiday, men get an opportunity to spoil their women with gifts. And unlike the women, the men are expected to spare no expense. It’s customary for the men to spend at least three times the amount that was spent on them.
8. Cupid appears in ancient mythology.
Cupid, with his famous bow and arrows, is a well-known symbol of Valentine’s Day. What most people don’t know is that Cupid was a prominent figure in both Greek and Roman mythology. Before he became the childlike character we recognize today, he was known to the Ancient Greeks as Eros, the god of love. The son of Greek goddess, Aphrodite, Cupid would toy with his target’s emotions by striking them with two sets of arrows—one for love, and the other for hate.
The Romans would later recount the tales of Cupid’s mischief in their own mythology. They believed Cupid was the son of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. It was the Romans who reimagined Cupid as chubby and playful. In fact, in classical Greek art, Eros is portrayed as an irresistible immortal that was chiseled and handsome.
9. Roses are known as the flowers of love.
It’s hard to imagine a more enduring symbol of romance than red roses. But, how did these beautiful blossoms earn their reputation as an emblem of love and passion? Red roses have been regarded in this way for centuries. In ancient mythology, roses are said to have been the favorite flower of the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Christian cultures correlate red roses with the Virgin Mary, which is why you’ll often see depictions of her surrounded by a floral shroud. And in Shakespeare’s classic sonnets, roses are referenced more than 70 times. It’s no wonder red roses are the quickest to sell out on Valentine’s Day.
10. The chocolate box is more than a century old.
In a genius marketing effort, Richard Cadbury began creating enticing chocolate boxes in 1861 in an attempt to bolster sales. His heart shaped boxes with depictions of rosebuds and charming Cupids were an immediate hit. Today, it’s estimated that more than 36 million heart-shaped chocolate boxes are sold each year.
11. “Experience” gifts are becoming increasingly popular.
Rather than traditional Valentine’s Day gifts like chocolate and flowers, a growing number of consumers have gravitated towards “experience gifts.” These gifts include things like concerts, a sporting event, or even a weekend getaway. This trend is especially popular among millennials, who seem to be prioritizing adventures and experiences over material possessions.
12. Both men and women prefer to receive chocolate.
Despite what you may think, both men and women would rather receive chocolate than flowers on Valentine’s Day. They also appear to have some similar taste in sweet confections. Caramels are consistently the most popular flavor in chocolate boxes, according to the National Confectioners Association.
13. Jewelry is the priciest Valentine’s Day gift.
While candy and flowers may seem like the hottest sellers, it’s actually jewelry that people spend the most on for Valentine’s Day. The jewelry industry rakes in an astonishing $4.7 billion for this romantic holiday. This is followed by an evening out at $3.7 billion, with flowers, clothing, and then candy trailing behind.
14. People spend a lot on their pets for Valentine’s Day.
It’s no secret that people love their pets. Most pet parents consider their furry friends full-fledged members of the family. So, it only makes sense they’d want to include their pet in holiday festivities. Millions of Americans spend outrageous amounts on their pets for Valentine’s Day, and are estimated to have forked out $886 million in 2019 alone. Whether it’s a new outfit or a special sweet treat, people are thrilled to spoil their cuddly companions. After all, is there a love more true and pure than that of a precious pet? We think not!
Celebrate Your Valentine’s Day at Leo’s!
There’s no better place to shop for Valentine’s Day gifts than Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers! Our spacious showroom on San Diego Avenue features an incredible selection of jewelry, watches, and other fine gifts. Shop your favorite brands like Tiffany & Co., Cartier, David Yurman, and many more! Whether honoring a romantic relationship, a lifelong friendship, or even a parent or sibling, there’s something for everyone at Leo’s. Don’t wait till the last minute, visit us today and discover all that we have in store!