Valentine’s Day is coming up — we hope you’re prepared to treat your sweetheart! Though it’s never a surprise — it’s on the same day every year — some of the history behind the holiday is surprising. Here are 8 fascinating facts about Valentine’s Day.
- In the third century, under Claudius the Cruel, soldiers were forbidden to marry because they were thought to fight better unattached. He did, however, encourage temporary relationships. According to the Smithsonian, during a yearly festival, each man would draw the name of a woman who would become his companion for the year. He would then wear her name on his sleeve for a week. This is one of the theories of how we get the term “wear your heart on your sleeve.”
- During that period under Claudius the Cruel, a Roman priest we now know as St. Valentine allegedly performed marriages of soldiers in secret. He was jailed for this.
- As the legend goes, St. Valentine wrote a love letter to his jailer’s daughter signed “Your Valentine.” That’s when the valentine as we know it was born.
- During the mid-to-late 1800’s in England, it was considered bad luck to sign a Valentine’s Day card.
- Today, about 1 BILLION Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year.
- In the United States, Richard Cadbury is popular for his Easter chocolate cream eggs, but he is the man who is credited (though the company lays no claim to Valentine’s Day boxes) for the first box of Valentine’s Day chocolates. That was in the mid-1800s — today, about 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold for Valentine’s Day every year.
- Venus, the Roman goddess of love preferred the red rose. Today it’s the most popular flower given on Valentine’s Day — more than 50 million roses are bought for the holiday every year.
- On Valentine’s Day 1876, Alexander Graham Bell applied for his patent on the telephone. His invention has evolved considerably and today it’s keeping sweethearts connected across states, countries, continents and oceans.
Though Valentine’s Day has a grim history, it’s a holiday that brings out the love in most of us even if we don’t have sweethearts. Whether you’re sharing your heart with your one-and-only, your family or your favorite furry friend, anyone can appreciate the sentiments of Valentine’s Day.