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VALENTINE’S DAY HISTORY AND FUN FACTS

Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. Originating as a Western Christian feast day honoring one or two early saints named Valentinus, Valentine's Day is recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country. Pope Gelasius established Valentine’s Day in A.D. 500 in an attempt to appropriate the ancient pagan Roman fertility festival, Lupercalia, into Christianity. “The High Court of Love” was established in Paris, France, in 1400 and is the first known official celebration of Saint Valentine’s Day. The English Duke of Orleans sent the first recorded Valentine in 1415, from prison. The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. In Europe, Saint Valentine's Keys are given to lovers "as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart", as well as children, in order to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine's Malady). According to legend, in order "to remind these men of their vows and God’s love, Saint Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment", giving them to these soldiers and persecuted Christians, a possible origin of the widespread use of hearts on St. Valentine's Day. While the custom of sending cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts originated in the UK, Valentine's Day still remains connected with various regional customs in England. In 1797, a British publisher issued The Young Man's Valentine Writer, which contained scores of suggested sentimental verses for the young lover unable to compose his own. Printers had already begun producing a limited number of cards with verses and sketches, called "mechanical valentines." Paper Valentines became so popular in England in the early 19th century that they were assembled in factories. Fancy Valentines were made with real lace and ribbons, with paper lace introduced in the mid-19th century. The first American Valentine was produced in 1834 by New York engraver Robert Elton. In the United States, the first mass-produced Valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. In 1868, the British chocolate company Cadbury created Fancy Boxes, a decorated box of chocolates, in the shape of a heart for Valentine's Day. Boxes of filled chocolates quickly became associated with the holiday. In the second half of the 20th century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manner of gifts, such as giving jewelry.

 

Valentine's Day is a major source of economic activity, with total expenditures in 2017 topping $18.2 billion in 2017, or over $136 per person. This is an increase from $108 per person in 2010.

 

In the UK, just under half of the population spend money on their Valentines, and around £1.9 billion was spent in 2015 on cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts.

 

The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately 190 million valentines are sent each year in the US. Half of those valentines are given to family members other than husband or wife, usually to children. When the valentine-exchange cards made in school activities are included the figure goes up to 1 billion, and teachers become the people receiving the most valentines.

 

Americans spend around $277 million on Valentine cards every year, second only to Christmas. Approximately one billion Valentine cards are sent each year around the world. An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent during the Christmas holidays.

 

An estimated 15 million e-valentines were sent in 2010.

 

On Valentine’s Day, nearly 189 million stems of roses are sold in the U.S. The most popular flower on Valentine’s Day is a single red rose surrounded with baby’s breath. In 2010, 25% of adults bought flowers or plants as a Valentine’s gift. Of these, 60% were men and 40% were women.

 

In the United States, a single man will spend about $71 for Valentine's Day; a single woman will spend about $40.

 

In the United States, consumers buy over 58 million pounds of chocolate.

 

Valentine candy “conversation hearts” have a shelf life of five years.

 

Valentine's Day is the second busiest day of the year for restaurants.

 

On Valentine's Day, American consumers collectively spend over $681 million on their pets In America.

 

Valentine's Day is considered by some to be a Hallmark holiday due to its commercialization.

 

Valentine's Day is celebrated in many East Asian countries with Singaporeans, Chinese and South Koreans spending the most money on Valentine's gifts. Singaporeans are among the biggest spenders on Valentine's Day, with 60% of Singaporeans indicating that they would spend between $100 and $500 during the season leading up to the holiday.

 

Valentine’s Day was first introduced to Japan in 1936 and has become widely popular. However, because of a translation error made by a chocolate company, only women buy Valentine chocolates for their spouses, boyfriends, or friends.

 

In 2017, the Islamabad High Court banned Valentine's Day celebrations in public places in Pakistan.

 

In 2011, Iran banned Valentine cards, gifts, teddy bears, and other Valentine tokens as part of an Islamic republic backlash against the spread of Western culture.

 

On Valentine’s Day 2010, 39,897 people in Mexico City broke the record for the world’s largest group kiss.

 

Started by a group of feminists, “Quirkyalone Day” is celebrated on February 14 as an alternative to Valentine’s Day. It is geared toward people who “resist the tyranny of coupledom.”

 

Another alternate Valentine’s Day celebration is SAD (Single Awareness Day), which reminds people that they don’t need to be in a relationship to celebrate life.

 

The symbol of the ribbon, which often adorns modern-day Valentines, is rooted in the Middle Ages. When knights competed in tournaments, their sweethearts often gave them ribbons for good luck.

 

In 1653, English puritanical leader Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of the Realm and, subsequently banned St. Valentine’s Day customs. Valentine’s Day wasn’t observed again until Stuart King Charles II was restored to the English throne in 1660.

 

In 1969, St. Valentine’s Day was removed from the Roman Calendar of Saints by Pope Paul VI, though its religious observance is still allowed.

 

Each year 300,000 letters go through Loveland, Colorado, to get a special heart stamp cancellation for Valentine’s Day.

 

Every Valentine's Day, the city of Verona, Italy receives thousands of letters addressed to Juliet, from the character from Romeo and Juliet.

 

During the Victorian Era, people would send "vinegar valentines" to unwanted suitors. Nicknamed "penny dreadfuls”, they were the opposite of customary valentines because they insulted and rejected unwanted admirers.

 

Over 100 years ago, the Chicago post office refused to deliver about 25,000 Valentine postcards because their messages were not nice. The caustic cards were called “vinegar Valentines.”

 

The condom company Durex reports that condom sales are 20-30% higher around Valentine’s Day.

 

On Valentine’s Day, Arizona was admitted to the Union in 1912.

 

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