Valentine’s Day Fun Facts

Valentine’s Day Fun Facts

It’s that time of year when tacky items in pinks, reds, and purples flood department stores; chocolates and candies take over health food aisles; heart-shaped balloons rise to ceilings; and bouquets of roses spill into even the desert’s florist shops. Couples plan candlelit dinners, waltz around their living rooms, and propose with diamond rings. Romance is in the air, and it’s evident that a holiday of love is upon us. Yet, while most of us—single or not—celebrate the day, its history, cultural impact, and symbolism remain relatively mysterious. Here are some interesting facts about February 14 and all of its quirky realities:

 

  1. Over 150 million cards are exchanged in the U.S. on Valentine’s Day each year, making it the second-most popular greeting card occasion of the year, after Christmas.
  2. The Hallmark brand alone sells over 1,400 varieties of Valentine cards. Interestingly, over half of all these Valentine’s Day cards are purchased less than a week before the holiday.
  3. The average amount someone will spent on Valentine’s Day is $130.97, with men spending more than twice as much as the average woman on gifts.
  4. Some popular gifts include plush toys, jewelry, perfume/cologne, and flowers. That said, experience gifts are on the rise, and most millennials prefer a date night, fun excursion (like a hike or boat ride) over material items.
  5. 6 million people expect or plan a marriage each year on Valentine’s Day.
  6. There are approximately 220,000 proposals in the U.S. alone on this special day. 2.2 million marriages take place each year in the States—approximately 6,600 a day—with the highest number in Nevada.
  7. The heart shape wasn’t always a romantic symbol. In fact, until the 14th century, it was considered the anatomical part responsible for memory. It wasn’t until European artists began advocating the heart as a symbol of romance that it became an icon of love.
  8. The history of Valentine’s Day is actually pretty dark. The exact origins are still unknown, but theories revolve around a historical Roman holiday called Lupercalia. During this feast, held from February 13 to 15, men whipped women with the hides of animals they had killed for food. The women believed this would make them fertile.
  9. Another theory for the origin of Valentine’s Day derives from a Roman tale. Roman Emperor Claudius II was forbidding his army men to marry, so St. Valentine secretly performed marriages. Eventually he was caught and executed on February 14, the day we honor him for his commitment to celebrating love.
  10. In South Korea and Japan, men give women romantic gifts on March 14, and the women give men chocolate on Valentine’s Day.
  11. Penicillin, a treatment for venereal diseases like syphilis, was first introduced on February 14, 1929.
  12. In the Middle Ages, young men and women would draw handwritten names from urns to choose their Valentine. For the following week, they would pin the names to their sleeves. Remember the phrase, “Wear your heart on your sleeve”? Turns out, it’s not just a cutesy sentence.
  13. For several countries, mid-February is the beginning of a mating season for a variety of birds. Even Shakespeare wrote, “Saint Valentine is past. Begin these wood birds but to couple now?” in his famed work A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  14. Swans are noted as one of the most loyal birds: Once they’ve chosen a mate, they stay faithful for life. This is why so many Valentine’s cards and memorabilia depict swans. And of course, how else do you think “lovebirds” came to be?
  15. Cupid—the mini-god of love and the son of Venus, who is the goddess of beauty and love—is a chubby angelic figure known to shoot arrows at a potential couple to make them fall in love. 
  16. The most renowned couple of all time is Romeo and Juliet. The two fictional characters are the product of William Shakespeare’s famous play, written in the 16th century. After centuries, the city of Verona, Italy, where the story took place, is still revered as one of the most romantic cities on earth.
  17. Speaking of Shakespeare, the line “Sweets for the sweet” is an excerpt from his play Hamlet, in Act 5 Scene 1.
  18. In recent years, pet owners have spent about $5 on their pets for Valentine’s Day.
  19. This year, an estimated nine million dog and cat moms are expected to buy their furry friends gifts.
  20. There are 119 single men—not including those widowed or divorced—in their twenties for every 100 single women. This means heterosexual women have a pretty good chance of finding a date!
  21. Chocolate is the most popular candy in the country, reeling in approximately $22 billion of the candy industry.
  22. Consistently, 8.5 percent of all chocolate sales coincide with seasonal holidays, including Valentine’s Day.
  23. The chocolate box—arguably the most popular chocolate gift—was first invented in 1868, nearly 150 years ago.
  24. Today, more than 40,000 Americans are employed by chocolate companies, most all of whom offer chocolate box variations. Like Forest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates.”
  25. 224 million roses are grown for Valentine’s Day, and over 50 percent of the population buys red roses for the holiday.
  26. Unfortunately the prices go up about 30 percent, with a dozen long-stemmed roses averaging $75, rather than the typical $58.
  27. A red rose symbolizes passion, while white roses symbolize purity; yellow is synonymous with friendship; and pink suggests sweetness.
  28. Studies claim that men account for 73 percent of all Valentine’s Day flower sales. And about 15 percent of women will send themselves flowers for the holiday.
  29. In addition to the States, Canada, Mexico, the UK, France, Italy, Denmark, Australia, and Japan celebrate the holiday.
  30. Teachers receive more Valentine’s Day cards than any other group.
  31. The oldest surviving valentine, a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, dates back to 1415. Legend has it, that at the time, Charles was being held captive in the Tower of London, after being captured during the Battle of Agincourt.
  32. Hallmark didn’t produce its first card until 1913. And today, the company employs 80 people to specifically research the sales patterns of valentines.

  

So there you have it! Some fun, weird, cute (and horrifying) facts to get you in the mood for love this year. Whether you’re single, casually dating, or in a committed relationship, an evening with wine and chocolate is (or should be) on the horizon. Write a cheesie poem to your best friend, send your Mom some flowers, buy your dog a new bone, binge eat your favorite candies, split a box of chocolates with your co-workers, light some candles, slow dance with your mop…Whatever it is you do, do it with love.

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