While we all know that Feb. 14 is considered the day of love, it has certainly evolved, and is still evolving from its origins. Here are some fun facts about the holiday’s beginnings, symbols, and modern-day traditions.
- The origins of Valentine’s Day are not exactly clear.
Though there are a couple ideas of how Valentine’s Day began, there is a common theory that stands. This theory describes a noble story in which St. Valentine challenged the rule that outlawed young men to marry. In the act of love, St. Valentine performed multiple secret marriages. As a consequence, however, he was executed on Feb. 14.
- Passing out valentines dates back to 1415.
Remember passing out a piece of candy attached to a little valentine to each of your classmates in grade school? It turns out this tradition of love notes began over 600 years ago. In 1415, Charles Duke of Orleans wrote a poem to his wife while he was imprisoned, which is noted as the oldest record of a valentine.
- Millions of Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged in the U.S every year.
To be exact, 144 million are exchanged. Industry-wide, 144 million Valentine’s Day cards are bought every year. That is just in the U.S. For those who aren’t fans of Valentine’s Day due to its consumerist nature, you have a valid point.
- Americans spend a lot of money on this day.
Speaking of consumerism, in 2017, Americans spent $18.2 billion for Valentine’s Day. Yes, you read that right. Though more and more people opt out of celebrating this holiday, this number is still expected to rise after each year. It is predicted that Americans will spend $20.7 billion today for their loved ones (or themselves).
- The iconic conversation heart candies were originally medical lozenges.
A Boston pharmacist created a machine that simplified the process of lozenge production, which actually ended up being the first candy-making machine. The brother of this pharmacist of Necco candy maker, however, was the one who found a way to shape the candies into a heart, making them what we see today. (Sadly, Necco closed its doors in 2018).
- Valentine’s Day comes second in cards and flowers to other holidays.
Even though there are 144 million cards sold in the U.S. on Valentine’s Day, it is only the second largest card-giving day of the year, coming in behind Christmas. And even though it is predicted that Americans will spend $3.3 billion on flowers for today, it doesn’t quite match the sales posted on Mother’s Day.
- Pets can be your valentine, too.
If your pets are standing in as your valentine this year, you’re not alone. Nearly 9 million people buy a Valentine’s Day gift for their pets each year. This is it. This is the signal to go splurge on your nonhuman best friends.