It's February 14th, and that means it's Valentine's Day. Lovers from around the world will exchange chocolates, flowers and gifts today to celebrate the most romantic day of the year. Whether you're spending today with your sweetheart or you're using it as an excuse to eat tons of chocolates, here are five interesting facts about Valentine's Day.
St. Valentine Wasn't Just One Person It's well-known that Valentine's Day is named after the patron saint, St. Valentine — but there's actually some confusion surrounding which St. Valentine the holiday technically honors. History.com suggests that there may be two men named "Valentine" who are the inspiration for the holiday. One Valentine was third-century priest in Rome who went against Emperor Claudius II's marriage ban by marrying couples illegally. As a result of his defying of the emperor, this Valentine was put to death. But other legends claim that Valentine was martyred for helping Christians flee prison in Rome, and that he sent the first "valentine" message while in jail, signing the letter, "From your Valentine."
Valentine's Day Became an Official Holiday in the 1300s
February 14 was officially declared "St. Valentine's Day" by Roman Pope Gelasius at the end of the 5th century. But it wasn't until the 1300s that the holiday became known as the day of love and romance. This was based on the notion that February 14 marked the beginning of the mating season for birds. However, wasn't until the 15th century that the first valentine was officially sent. According to History.com, the oldest recorded valentine sent was in 1415 by a French medieval duke who sent his wife a romantic poem that he wrote while imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Cupid Has Its Roots in Greek And Roman Mythology
Several tokens and figures symbolize Valentine's Day, including the adorable cherub with his bow and arrow that adorns Valentine's Day cards. But where exactly did the idea of the love matchmaker come from and why was it linked to this holiday? According to Time, the idea dates back to 700 BC and is depicted in Eros, the handsome, young, Greek god of love who had the power to make people fall in love. The Romans eventually made Eros into the image of a chreub, who they had named "Cupid" by the 4th century BC, depicting him as a cute boy with a bow and arrow. By the turn of the 19th century, Cupid had become linked to Valentine's Day due to his love-matching powers.
Americans Send 145 Million Valentine's Day Cards Each Year
According to Hallmark, a whopping 145 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged every February 14 This makes Valentine's Day the second biggest holiday for exchanging greeting cards, after Christmas. Teachers receive the most Valentine's Day cards annually, followed by children, mothers and wives. Needless to say, we've come a long way from 1913, which was when Hallmark Cards produced their first Valentine's card.
Nearly 6 Million Couples Get Engaged On Valentine's Day 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.