Millions of people celebrate Valentine’s Day on 14 February every year – but just how much do you actually know about the celebration and how it got started?
These ten interesting facts should shed some light on a few things you probably didn’t know about the day of love.
1. Valentine’s Day started as a form of rebellion
The most popular theory about Valentine’s Day origin is that Emperor Claudius II didn’t want Roman men to marry during wartime.
Saint Valentine went against his wishes and performed secret weddings, which means this day was originally founded on an act of rebellion! Cool huh?
2. Signing your messages with a kiss is nothing new
Typing a long line of kisses at the end of a message is something many of us do but while you may associate it most with the modern “text” era, this little symbol actually has a much longer history.
Some think the cute ‘x’ symbol became synonymous with the kiss in medieval times when very few individuals could write and would end each of their letters with an ‘x’ embossed in wax or ink to show their sincerity. This evolved to represent the kiss and the rest is history (we’re not sure who decided to add ‘o’ symbols to represent hugs but we’re pretty sure it happened a fair bit later!
3. Not all valentines are chosen on purpose
Receive a valentine today and it’s a sign that someone has a secret crush on you. Go back to the Middle Ages though and the situation is a little different.
Back then, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who would be their valentine. The single women’s names would be added to an urn and single men of the town would take a name out and pin it to their sleeves for one whole week. This would allow everyone in the town to see who their valentine was and could be where the term “wearing your heart on your sleeve” originates.
4. Nearly three quarters of men will buy flowers on Valentine’s Day
While it is hardly surprising that more men buy flowers on Valentine’s Day than women, it may shock you to learn just how many men pick up a bouquet. Around 73% of men will buy flowers on the big day while just over one quarter (27%) of women will do the same. Come on ladies!
5. Red roses have been associated with love since Ancient Rome
We are all aware that the red rose is a common purchase around the time of Valentine’s Day – but why? Roses, and red ones in particular, have become a symbol of love and are therefore heavily connected with the day. The origin of this tradition stretches as far back as Ancient Rome when the red rose was the favourite flower of Venus: the Goddess of love.
6. Juliet still gets love letters sent to her on Valentine’s Day
William Shakespeare’s most famous romance Romeo and Juliet has captured hearts for decades – so much so that Juliet still receives love letters on Valentine’s Day! Every year, the city of Verona in Italy (where the play was set) receives around 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet. Not bad for someone who’s been dead for hundreds of years.
7. You don’t have to be lovers to celebrate Valentine’s Day
While Valentine’s Day is most commonly associated with lovers and couples, that doesn’t mean singletons can’t celebrate the occasion too! In fact, one country has gone as far as to transform the occasion into “Friend’s Day” instead!
On February 14, Finland celebrates Ystavanpaiva which is translated as ‘Friends Day’. Forget the romantic undertones – gifts and cards are given and received but by friends rather than lovers. We think it’s a great way to involve everyone.
8. Henry VIII decided when Valentine’s Day should be celebrated
Marrying a total of six women throughout his lifetime, there’s no denying Henry VIII was a BIG fan of women and probably a rather big romance – but did you know he is responsible for when we actually celebrate Valentine’s Day? Back in 1537, King Henry VIII declared by Royal Charter that Valentine’s Day would be a public holiday chose 14 February as the official day of celebration.
9. Women buy most of the Valentine’s gifts – even the ones for themselves!
Want to make sure you get what you want this Valentine’s? Then buy it yourself apparently! A massive 85% of ALL gifts for Valentine’s Day are bought by women which means a lot of us are picking up our own treats. Well, it beats getting lumbered with a tacky ornament we don’t like!
10. Teachers receive the most Valentine’s Day cards
Valentine’s cards are big news for those of school age but surprisingly it is teachers, not pupils, who stand to benefit the most. Teachers generally receive the largest number of Valentine’s Day cards with children, mothers, wives and pets (yes, pets) filling the rest of the top five recipient’s list.