Top 10 Fun Facts about Valentine’s Day that you might not know
Top 10 Fun Facts about Valentine’s Day that you might not know

1. Dark origin of February 14: Pagan fertility festival of Lupercalia

February 14 is the feast of St. Valentine, a Catholic saint who was executed by Roman Emperor Claudius II on that date sometime during the third century A.D. Many legends surround the reason for his death sentence. The most popular one says he was a priest who married young couples after Claudius outlawed marriage for young men (apparently they were better soldiers when they weren’t romantically attached). Another says he helped save Catholics who were imprisoned for their religious beliefs.

However, the holiday may have been promoted to overshadow the pagan festival Lupercalia. Between February 13 and 15, Romans celebrated by sacrificing a goat and a dog and whipping women with their hides. Crude as it may seem, people believed this made women more fertile, and women actually lined up to get slapped with bloody hides.

In the fifth century, Pope Gelasius I outlawed Lupercalia and officially declared February 14 Valentine’s Day. These other Valentine’s traditions from around the world are much less gruesome.

2. Valentine’s Day symbol- heart sign- originated from a plant

The heart shape used in symbolism is said to be linked to the actual hearts of animals, since the Catholic Church opposed dissection of the human body. This means that whilst the heart symbol we know of today is a familiar shape to the human heart, it is a shape that fits more closely to that of a bird or reptilian heart.

Another suggestion for the origin of the heart shape is one that says the shape comes from a north African plant popular in the Greek city of Cyrene during the seventh century BC. Silphium, a species of giant fennel, is a plant that is now extinct, but once had a lucrative trade for use as a seasoning, but also reputed to have been used as a form of birth control. Silphium was so critical to Cyrene’s economy that coins depicted the plant’s seed-pod, which looks like the shape of the heart used in modern symbolism. The theory suggests the heart-shape of the seedpod was first associated with sex and later with love.

Top 10 Fun Facts about Valentine’s Day that you might not know

The true origins may be a little more straightforward and certainly less romantic. Some scholars have argued that the symbol has its roots in the writings of Galen and the philosopher Aristotle, who believing the heart contained all human passions, inaccurately described the human heart as having three chambers with a small dent in the middle. This description may have inspired artists making an attempt to draw the heart shape from ancient medical texts to come up with the heart symbol still in use today.

3. More than 8 billion conversation hearts are manufactured each year

And Necco has to start making them just days after February 14 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.

Top 10 Fun Facts about Valentine’s Day that you might not know

4. Science confirms red color makes you attractive

It has long been a Valentine’s Day fact that red is the color of passion and sexuality, and science can now confirm it. A study by University of Rochester psychologists found that men viewed women wearing red or standing in front of a red background as significantly more attractive and sexually desirable than women wearing or standing in front of different colors.

Women felt the same way about men wearing red. The color also symbolizes confidence, spontaneity, and determination—all important factors in a romantic pursuit. This easy trick will reveal whether someone is attracted to you or not.

The First Valentine Was Written From Prison

The history behind the oldest-known valentine involves imprisonment in a medieval tower. Charles, Duke of Orleans wrote a love letter to his second wife at the age of 21, while captured at the Battle of Agincourt.

5. Millions dollars were spent on gifts for their pets on Valentine’s Day

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

Top 10 Fun Facts about Valentine’s Day that you might not know

6. Jewelry is the most-paid gift for Valentine’s Day

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 14 is jewelry, at a whopping $5.8 billion in 2020!

The second most-paid-for gift on Valentine's Day 2020 was an evening out with $4.3 billion, followed by clothing, candy and then flowers.

7. Heart-shaped box of chocolates was “born” in 1861

It was created by Richard Cadbury, son of Cadbury founder John Cadbury, who started packaging chocolates in fancy boxes to increase sales. He introduced the first heart-shaped box of chocolates for V-Day in 1861, and today, more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sold each year. That's 58 million pounds of chocolate!

8. 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 14.

Top 10 Fun Facts about Valentine’s Day that you might not know
Fascinating Valentine's Day Fact

And according to the results of this 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. Cupid was the Greek god of love

Before he was called Cupid, the Greeks called this heavenly figure Eros, the god of love. He was considered somewhat of a sex symbol since he could woo humans and gods with his supernaturally good looks.

According to Greek mythology, Cupid had two arrows, gold to make people fall in love and lead to make people hate each other. The Romans added him to their mythology as Cupid, the son of Venus, who was the goddess of love. During the Renaissance, artists painted Cupid as a putto, a cherub that resembled a naked child. Unfortunately for Cupid, that depiction stuck and went on to become a popular image for Valentine’s Day.

Celebrate the holiday with these 26 romantic Valentine’s Day quotes.

Photo: Godness Touch Blog
Photo: Godness Touch Blog

10. X to mean kissing

X as a symbol for kissing dates back to the Middle Ages. The most common theory states that many medieval folks who couldn’t read would sign documents with an X, a symbol representative of Christ because of its similarity to a cross.

Top 10 Fun Facts about Valentine’s Day that you might not know
X to mean kissing

They would then reverently kiss the X in a show of piety. It’s not super clear where the O for “hugs” comes from; one theory is that the O was just along for the ride because it was also very easy to write. Another is that the “XOXO” symbol and the game Tic-Tac-Toe gained popularity at the same time, and thus X and O were already an established duo.

The History of Valentine’s Day, and Why We Celebrate

Valentine’s Day always falls on February 14. Valentine’s Day 2021 is Sunday, February 14, and Valentine’s Day 2020 was Friday, February 14. (For those wanting to make big plans, Valentine’s Day 2022 will be Monday, February 14.)

At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day, and since then, February 14 has been a day of celebration (religious or romantic).

Valentine’s Day has its origins as an ancient agriculture and human fertility festival. From February 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia.

Lupercalia was a fertility festival in honor of Lupa, the wolf who was said to have suckled Romulus and Remus (whom founded the city of Rome in 753 B.C., according to legend). This festival was also dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture. This was the season to start sowing seeds and to hope for a fertile year of crops.

*More: History, Meaning, Facts and Stories of Valentine Day

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