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The History of Valentine's Day

Today, Valentine's Day is widely recognized as a holiday for romance and for showering loved ones with gifts such flowers, candy and jewelry, but it did not start out that way. In ancient Rome, people observed a holiday to honor Juno, the Queen of Roman Gods & Goddesses, who was also regarded as Goddess of Women and Marriage, on February 14th. On this day, the names of young Roman women were written on paper, and young men would draw out a name and be paired with the girl for the rest of the festival; often times they would fall in love and later marry. The next day on February 15th started the fertility festival called Feast of Lupercalia.

During Emperor Claudius II's reign, he canceled all marriages throughout Rome in order for the men who didn’t want to leave their wives and families to enlist in the army. A priest named Valentine defied him, however, by secretly marrying couples and was beaten and put to death on February 14, approx. 270AD. After his death, Valentine was named a saint. Then in around 498AD, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day to honor the martyr. In present day, Valentine's Day honors the traditions of love, especially romantic love. Current-day celebrations include giving gifts of chocolates and flowers, exchanging greeting cards and spending a romantic evening with your significant other.

Fun Valentine's Day Facts:

• The expression "to wear your heart on your sleeve" comes from the tradition of men wearing slips of paper with their beloved’s name on it to their shirt sleeve
• King Henry VII of England officially declared the St. Valentine's Day a holiday in 1537
• Red roses were thought to be the favorite flower of Venus, the Goddess of Love
• Approximately 110 million roses (typically red) are sold & delivered in a 3 day period around Valentine’s Day
• In the late 1800s, Richard Cadbury introduced the first box of chocolates
• 73% of people who buy Valentine's Day flowers are men and 27% are women
• Roughly 190 million cards are sent every year in the U.S., excluding those sent by schoolchildren. If you include cards from children, the total number reaches to 1 billion and teachers become the largest group of recipients.
• France's Duke of Orléans sent the first known Valentine's card to his wife in 1415
• Esther Howland sold the first U.S. mass-produced Valentine's Day cards in 1847
• Sending Valentine's cards used to only be associated with couples but now extends to family, friends, co-workers, etc.
• Most popular gifts exchanged between lovers include: chocolate flowers (typically roses), teddy bears and sometimes jewelry
• Traditionally, couples will go out for a romantic evening together, but other emerging traditions include Valentine's Day balls and couples-only or singles-only parties

Traditional Symbols of Valentine's Day

• Cupid
• Hearts
• Red Roses


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