14 Things You Didn't
Know About Valentine's Day
Valentine's Day might not be one of our favorite holidays in America, but it's definitely one of the most popular. Highly anticipated by some. Dreaded by others. Cards. Chocolate. Flowers. Cupid and candy hearts. We all know how Valentine's Day goes. At different points in our lives, we've all been on both sides of the fence regarding our enthusiasm for this day of affection. But like many of the holidays that mark our calendars year in and year out, there are plenty of things we don't know or haven't even questioned about Valentine's Day. Learn some facts about the holiday's Roman and medieval history, as well as intriguing stats about roses, chocolate, movies, and more.
1 There Were Three
The most popular story about Saint Valentine is little more than legend. Little is known about him other than the fact that he was a Roman priest. As the story goes, he married young couples, directly violating an edict by Emperor Claudius II that discouraged young men (who would have been soldiers in the Roman legions) from marrying at a young age to keep them focused on their duty to the Empire. Valentine was executed for his violation of the edict in the 3rd century on the 14th of February. Strangely, there are two other Christian martyrs named Valentine that are said to have met their demise on the same date, though not as much is known about them.
2 It Began As A Catholic
Feast Day In 496 A.D.
Like many holidays, several events mixed together over the course of history to make Valentine's Day possible. While Saint Valentine's martyrdom is regarded as the legend with the strongest tie to the holiday's origin, the pagan Roman festival, Lupercalia, was just as important. Lupercalia was an ancient fertility festival involving animal sacrifices, the god Faunus, and a huge feast. This pagan celebration was appropriated into the Christian canon by Pope Gelasius I in the year 496, establishing the 14th of February as its official date, likely as a tribute to Saint Valentine's sacrifice.
3"Heart On Your Sleeve"
Is From The Middle Ages
Claudius II's edict may have declared marriage illegal, but it's known that he didn't completely discourage relationships. At an annual Roman festival, men were allowed to pick the names of women they intended to pursue, and if successful, would wear the woman's name on their sleeve throughout the festival. In the same fashion, it was common for knights participating in jousting matches in the Middle Ages to pledge themselves to the women they loved by adding tokens from the ladies on their arms, such as handkerchiefs, or by wearing the colors of the women's families in place of their own. However, the most famous usage of the phrase comes from William Shakespeare's play, Othello.
4 X's And O's Didn't
Always Mean Kisses And Hugs
While emojis have all but eliminated symbols like the famous XOXO from the vocabularies of people in younger generations, X's and O's have an interesting history that dates back to ancient societies. We can only speculate as to how these markings came to symbolize kisses and hugs, but one interesting theory notes an evolution from religious symbol to practical tool. In the early centuries of the 1st millennium, the X became a common symbol among Christians to represent their faith. In a world where the ability to write was a privileged skill, many people adopted the X as an easy way to sign their name. The meaning of these symbols, perhaps because of their use in the signature lines of letters for many centuries, slowly transformed into symbols of affection.
5 Weird Foods Were Eaten To Inspire Visions Of Future Love
In the Middle Ages, it became a common Valentine's Day tradition that women would eat strange foods to induce dreams of their future husbands.
6 Chocolate Was Used To Mend Broken Hearts
For a certain spell in the 1800's, doctors sometimes prescribed chocolate to patients who showed signs of emotional distress caused by a broken heart.
7 Chocolate Sales Usually Total Over
Chocolate still mends broken hearts in its own way, though it is more likely given as a gift. The average Valentine's Day sees over $1 billion in total chocolate sales, which equals over 50 million pounds of chocolate.
8 Valentine's Day Has The Most Proposals
If people aren't convinced by the prospect of proposing or being proposed to on Valentine's Day, the numbers don't show it. There are over 200,000 Valentine's Day marriage proposals each year.
9 Valentine's Day Isn't The Biggest Holiday For Cards
The biggest holiday of the year for giving cards is actually Christmas, which probably has to do with the fact that most Valentine's Day cards are bought within a week of February 14th.
10 The Highest Grossing Movies On Valentine's
The highest grossing movies on Valentine's Day aren't romantic comedies. Deadpool (2016) holds the record for the highest grossing movie on the weekend closest to the holiday, while Daredevil (2003) is the highest grossing to actually open on February 14th.
11 China's Version of Valentine's Day Is The Magpie Festival
Unlike Christmas, Valentine's Day isn't widely celebrated around the world. It was even removed from the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969. However, there are a variety of equivalent holidays around the world with a similar theme. In China, the Double Seventh Festival, a.k.a. the Qixi Festival or the Magpie Festival, is celebrated in August. It shares most of the gift-giving, rose-filled, chocolate-buying traits for which Valentine's Day is known. The legend behind the holiday is very romantic, and might be the reason why so many movies use bridges as a romantic meeting place.
12 200 Million Roses Are Produced Annually
Around 200 million roses are grown each year to meet the Valentine's Day demand. And of those millions of flowers, nearly 75 percent of them are purchased by men. About as many single stems are sold as greeting cards are bought, although women traditionally do most of the card buying, having over an 80 percent stake in the total business. Interestingly, of all the money that is spent on Valentine's Day, flowers rank as far as fourth on the list after candy, cards and dining. Other than roses, the top flowers sold on Valentine's Day tend to be lilies, carnations and tulips.
13 Aphrodite Is The Reason For Roses
Ancient Greek and Roman mythology is packed with references to the rose, which also appears frequently in many ancient stories from legendary Eastern traditions to Egyptian lore. According to mythology, Aphrodite (the Goddess of Love) created the rose from her own tears. The Romans expanded on the Greek narrative. Aphrodite became Venus, and her son, Cupid, has since been linked directly to the Valentine's Day tradition. In one of the more interesting stories, it was Cupid who gave roses their thorns, "stinging" them by accidentally shooting an arrow into the garden.
14 Roses Aren't The Only Flowers With A
Roses are by far the most popular flowers exchanged on Valentine's Day, but there are a variety of flowers that symbolize things perfectly suitable for expressing the feelings you may want to divulge on this particular Valentine's Day. Everything down to the color of roses you buy might symbolize something, so it's better to know the subtle differences if you aren't sure. For example, yellow or coral roses are generally regarded as expressing friendship or platonic relationships, whereas lavender, orange and red (especially dark red) symbolize romantic love and passion. If you?re wondering what flowers other than roses symbolize, check out this comprehensive guide.