By: Alison Puzia, Guest Contributor
Happy Valentine’s Day! Impress your friends, co-workers, and your special someone with these fun facts about Valentine’s Day.
1. The history of Saint Valentine is shrouded in mystery.
Some stories suggest that Saint Valentine third-century Roman priest. At that time, the emperor, Cladius II, had made a law prohibiting young men from marrying, as he felt single men made better soldiers than men with families. Saint Valentine, it is said, ignored the ban in favor of true love, and performed many marriages in secret. When the emperor discovered this, he had Saint Valentine sentenced to death. Other legends say that Saint Valentine was killed by the Roman Empire for helping Christians escape from prison. While in prison, he wrote a letter to his true love, and signed it “your Valentine,” a phrase still used today.
2. The oldest known love poem was written around the year 3500 BC.
The poem, inscribed in a clay tablet, was found in Nippur, an ancient Sumerian kingdom in modern-day Iraq. An ode from a groom to his future bride, the poem discusses how captivated the groom is by the bride, and lists everything he loves about her. The table with the inscription is currently housed at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.
3. The phrase “wearing your heart on your sleeve” originated from a Valentine’s Day Tradition.
To determine who their Valentine would be, young men and women in the Middle Ages drew names from a bowl. They would then attach the name to their sleeve, and wear it there for an entire week. Hence, they were wearing their “heart” on their sleeve!
4. The tradition of giving chocolates as gifts was created by Richard Cadbury in the late 1800s.
The British chocolatier was an artist; he decorated his chocolate boxes with pictures he created. Often, he would use his own children as models or include scenes from his holiday travels. These decorative boxes were prized by the Victorians and given to loved ones as gifts. They recycled the boxes, using them to hold buttons and other trinkets. Cadbury’s original boxes are now considered collectors’ items. Today, more than 36 million boxes of chocolate are sold annually for Valentine’s Day.
5. The oldest known Valentine’s Day card was written in 1415.
The card was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife. After the Battle of Agincourt, the duke was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Because of his imprisonment, the duke could not talk to his wife, so, to communicate his love for her, he wrote her a Valentine’s Day poem. The card has been included in the manuscript collection of the British Library in London.
6. In the 1800s, chocolate was thought to cure heartbreaks.
In fact, doctors would prescribe chocolate to patients who came in complaining of a broken heart. The chocolate was thought to soothe the pain of a broken heart. Today, doctors know that chocolate may not heal the pain of unrequited love, but it may help heart health. Eating one piece of dark chocolate a day can reduce blood pressure and LDL cholesterol by 10%. As a bonus, the antioxidants in dark chocolate can protect the body from aging.
7. Halloween isn’t the only holiday with superstitions attached to it.
That’s right, many people embrace Valentine’s Day superstitions. Many of these superstitions are associated with the first bird an unmarried woman sees on Valentine’s Day. Seeing a goldfinch indicates that the woman will marry a rich man, a sparrow means a poor man, a crossbill means an argumentative man, and an owl means that the woman will remain a spinster her entire life. These bird-Valentine’s superstitions stem from the British belief that birds, especially lovebirds, mate on Valentine’s Day.
8. Verona, Italy, known for being Romeo and Juliette’s hometown, receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet every Valentine’s Day.
The tradition of sending letters to Casa di Giulietta, Juliette’s Verona home in Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliette,” has been going on for centuries, when people left notes on what was assumed to be Juliette’s tomb. Letters of heartbreak, unrequited love, and other love-related stories arrive in Verona from around the world. The city receives so many letters, in the 1990s it created an organization, called Juliette’s Club, to reply to the mail. During the week of February14th, the town hosts a week of events called “Verona in Love.” Valentine’s Day decorations are put up all over the town, including a huge red heart painted on the ground of the central piazza dei Signori. Juliette’s Club selects the most beautiful letter received in the last year, and awards a prize to the author.
9. About 220,000 people will propose on Valentine’s Day.
This is about 10% of the annual total. However, despite this high rate of engagements occurring on Valentine’s Day, February is not the month with the highest number of proposals; December is. About 15% of proposals occur in December, with a high number on both Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
10. Men typically spend about twice as much than women do for Valentine’s Day.
The average man spends about $150.00 for Valentine’s Day. This number includes gifts, dates, flowers, chocolates, etc. This is double what the average woman spends for Valentine’s Day- $75.00. About 17% of these men will buy jewelry for their Valentine, but only about half will buy a card. In fact, 85% percent of all Valentine’s Day cards are purchased by women. Though not big on card purchases, men make up for it with their flower purchases. 73% of Valentine’s Day flowers are purchase by men. Overall, the National Retail Foundation estimates that Americans will spend $15.7 billion on Valentine’s Day.