Valentine Day Facts and History

Sources: Good Housekeeping; PredictHQ; Bill Trotta, the WOLF; WalletHub; HuffPost.
By Barbara Heimlich
Editor

On Sunday a major portion of television viewers will be glued to their set watching the Super Bowl. PredictHQ estimates this year’s Super Bowl will attract 117 million viewers on NBC,host of this year’s Super Bowl. That would be an increase of 21% compared to the 2021 Super Bowl which attracted 96.4 million viewers.

In case you don’t follow football, the Super Bowl is on Sunday, and Monday is Valentine’s Day.  Though the game (which features the Los Angeles Rams vs the Cincinnati Bengal’s) doesn’t officially begin until 6:30 p.m. pre-game shows begin at noon. (Editor’s note: Go Bengals)

So let’s start this ode to Valentine’s Day by honoring and cheering all those women (and of course men) who spent days coming up with the perfect Super Bowl party (not to mention the expense).  Keeping that in in mind, and to help you embrace that loving feeling, I turned to WalletHub.com who have an analysis of Valentine’s Day, as well as other publications for facts and figures on celebrating Valentine’s Day.

53%: That’s the percentage of women who would break up with their significant other if they didn’t receive a Valentine’s Day gift.  Keep that in mind while in front of that big screen TV.

People are also expected to spend an average of approximately $196 for Valentine’s Day, with men spending around $291 compared to women spending $106.

Valentine’s Day has typically been associated with romantic love and partnership. Interestingly enough, according to a Today show survey that polled 1,500 people, only 59% of spouses planned on giving their partners a gift while 85% of parents planned to give their children something on February 14th.  Hummmm, wonder if any of the 53% are down with this!

47%:  The percentage of people who will not be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year.  If your significant other is in this demographic group, you are off the hook. (maybe)

Fascinating Valentine’s Day Facts That Will Probably Surprise You

If you find yourself wondering about the origins of this February holiday — and its candy-filled traditions — you’ll want to check out these Valentine’s Day facts, which offer a deeper look into the age-old celebration.

St. Valentine wasn’t just one person.

You may already know that Valentine’s Day was named after its patron saint, St. Valentine — but there’s actually some confusion surrounding which St. Valentine the holiday technically honors. According to History.com, there are at least two men named Valentine that could’ve inspired the holiday, including one Valentine who was a priest in third century Rome. As the story goes, this Valentine defied Emperor Claudius II’s ban on marriage (he thought it distracted young soldiers), illegally marrying couples in the spirit of love until he was caught and sentenced to death.  Now that’s harsh!

Another legend suggests that Valentine was killed for attempting to help Christians escape prison in Rome, and that he actually sent the first “valentine” message himself while imprisoned, writing a letter signed “From your Valentine.”  Better choice!

Valentine’s Day has its roots in an ancient Pagan festival.

Though some historians believe that Valentine’s Day commemorates the death of St. Valentine on February 14th, others believe that the holiday actually has its origins in a Pagan fertility festival called “Lupercalia,” which was celebrated on February 15th in ancient Rome. Dedicated to Faunus, the Roman God of agriculture, and Roman founders Romulus and Remus, the day was celebrated by sacrificing animals and smacking women with animal hides (did they have leather and mink then?), a practice that was believed to encourage fertility.  I’m pretty sure this would not woo the woman of your dreams today.  Stick to flowers and candy.

Cupid has its roots in Greek mythology.

Cupid, that cute chubby cherub that appears on Valentine’s Day cards, often depicted with a bow and arrow is a common symbol of Valentine’s Day.  According to Time, Cupid can be traced all the way back to 700 B.C., to the Greek God of love named Eros, who was actually a handsome, immortal man with the intimidating power to make people fall in love. It wasn’t until the 4th century BCE that the Romans adopted Eros into the image of a cute little boy with a bow and arrow, naming him “Cupid.” By the turn of the 19th century, Cupid had become linked to Valentine’s Day due to his love-matching powers.

Not until the 1840s did we get the first mass-produced valentines.

People started exchanging cards and handwritten letters to both lovers and friends during the 17th century, but it was in the 1840s that the first Valentine’s Day cards were mass-produced in the U.S., sold by Esther A. Howland. Known as the “Mother of the American Valentine,” Howland is credited with commercializing Valentine’s Day cards in America, and she is remembered for her elaborate, crafty cards made with lace and ribbons.

According to Hallmark, a whopping 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged every February 14th. Valentine’s Day the second biggest holiday for exchanging greeting cards, after Christmas. Teachers receive the most Valentine’s Day cards annually, followed by children, mothers and wives

$1.15 Billion People:  The amount that will be spent on Valentine’s Day cards.

The tradition of giving Valentine’s Day flowers dates back to the 17th century.

Giving red roses may be an obvious romantic gesture today, but it wasn’t until the late 17th century that giving flowers became a popular custom. The practice can be traced back to when King Charles II of Sweden learned the “language of flowers” — which pairs different flowers with specific meanings — on a trip to Persia, and subsequently introduced the tradition to Europe. The act of giving flowers then became a popular trend during the Victorian Era — including on Valentine’s Day — with red roses symbolizing deep love.

$2.3 Billion:  The amount of money that will be spent buying flowers.

36.4%: The percentage of people who will buy flowers for their significant other.

Furry Family Members included in the holiday.

Pets need love, too! In fact, around 27.6 million American households gave Valentine’s Day presents to their pet dogs in 2020, and more than 17.1 million picked up gifts for their cats. American households spent an estimated $751.3 million on gifts for their pets on Valentine’s Day.

20%:  Percentage of people who will buy Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets.

Valentine’s Day gift that people spend the most on is jewelry.

Candy and flowers might be some of the most common gifts for Valentine’s Day, but according to the National Retail Federation, the category that we typically spend the most on for February 14th is jewelry.

$6.2 Billion Dollars: The amount that will be spent on jewelry for Valentine’s Day. There is even a song that fits this day: Diamonds are a girl’s best friend! J

The first heart-shaped box of chocolates was introduced in 1861.

Created by Cadbury, who started packaging chocolates in fancy boxes to increase sales. The first heart-shaped box of chocolates for V-Day was in 1861, and today, more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sold each year. That’s 58 million pounds of chocolate!

Conversation hearts got their start as medical lozenges.

And we can’t go on without mention of those candy conversation hearts.  They first began when a Boston pharmacist named Oliver Chase invented a machine that simplified the way medical lozenges — used for sore throats and other illnesses — could be made. The result was America’s first candy-making machine, because the pharmacist soon started shifting his focus from making lozenges to candy instead! Chase founded the New England Confectionery Company, or Necco, and the candy lozenges soon became what we know today as Necco wafers.

Oliver’s brother, Daniel Chase, started printing sentimental messages on the Necco sweethearts, though these candies were bigger than the versions we have today — and featured much longer printed sayings and phrases. Some of the first messages included:  “Married in white you have chosen right” and “How long shall I have to wait? Please be considerate.”

Necco has to start making them just days after February 14th to have enough in time for the next Valentine’s Day. That’s almost 100,000 pounds per day! Each box has approximately 45 sayings — including “True Love,” “Hug Me” and “You Rock” — but you can personalize your own, too. But don’t worry if you still have last year’s box — they have a shelf life of five years.

Nearly 6 million couples get engaged on Valentine’s Day.

I mean, what better day is there for a marriage proposal than a day literally dedicated to love and romance? Valentine’s Day is one of the popular days to pop the question, with as many as 6 million couples getting engaged on February 14th. In a Good Housekeeping survey, Valentine’s Day was voted the best day of the year to propose than any other day — and of those people who voted, 40% were men!

9 Million People: Number of people who will propose to their significant other on Valentine’s Day.

1 Million People: The number of Facebook users who will change their relationship status within a week of Valentine’s Day. (Because they got engaged or are part of the 53% of women who would break up with their significant other if they didn’t receive a Valentine’s Day gift?)

There is an official Valentine’s Day alternative for singles.

International Quirkyalone Day is the holiday for single people also observed on February 14th.  According to Huff.com, the holiday isn’t an anti-Valentine’s Day event, but rather a moment to celebrate self-love and platonic relationships. International Quirkyalone Day has been celebrated globally since 2003.

Quirkyalone Day leaves no one out. You can participate if you are single or partnered (quirkytogether)!  Over the last ten years, Quirkyalone Day has been celebrated in over 40 cities over the world. It’s a grassroots celebration. People host parties in bars, karaoke bars, cafes, puzzle stores and bowling alleys.

25%: Percentage of singles that will buy themselves a Valentine’s Day present.

To all of you who either observe Valentine’s Day, or International Quirkyalone Day we at the Stratford Crier hope your celebration is everything you want it to be!

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