Cards, roses, chocolates and romantic, candlelit dinners… These items illustrate the splendor of Valentine’s Day, a day celebrated by couples across the globe.
But did you know the following facts about your favorite romantic holiday?
Fact 1: According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. consumers in 2014 spent an average of $134 on Valentine’s Day gifts and entertainment! The NRF annual survey also revealed that 54% of Americans celebrated the 14th of February, a drop by 10% compared to 2013.
Fact 2: Americans spent a total of $17.3 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2014! Jewelry accounted for $3.9 billion in sales and evenings out totaled $3.5 billion.
Fact 3: The city of Verona, Italy, the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet every February 14th.
Fact 4: Twenty-three percent of people in 2014 purchased flowers or plants as gifts for Valentine’s Day.
Fact 5: Richard Cadbury created the first heart-shaped chocolate box in 1868.
Fact 6: There is an average of 220,000 wedding proposals on Valentine’s Day each year.
Fact 7: In 2011, Iran banned Valentine Day cards, bears and other gifts associated with the 14th of February in an attempt to reduce the spread of Western culture in this Islamic republic.
Fact 8: Valentine’s was first introduced in Japan in 1936 by Morozoff through advertisement for foreigners. In the 1970’s the Japanese gave a unique touch to this holiday, namely only women gift men chocolates on the 14th of February while men return the favor on March 14th.
Fact 9: In response to Valentine’s Day, the 15th of February has been declared Singles Awareness Day! On this day single people are given their chance to celebrate and exchange gifts with their single friends.
Fact 10: The ancient Roman festival Lupercalia is considered to be the precursor of Valentine’s Day. It was celebrated from the 13th to the 15th of February. It is believed that on this day men stripped naked and whipped young maidens with goat or dog skin whips in hopes of increasing their fertility.
Fact 11: Valentine was a priest of Rome. In the 3rd century AD, Claudius II, Emperor of Rome banned marriages and engagements in order to encourage men to join his army. Valentine disagreed with Claudius and helped people who suffered under these laws by continuing to marry couples in secrecy. After his death, the 14th of February was named “St. Valentine’s Day” in his honor.
Fact 12: Handmade paper cards become a traditional Valentine’s gift in the Middle Ages. Factory made cards were introduced during the 19th century and the industrial revolution. Hallmark Cards of Kansas City began mass producing Valentine’s Day cards in 1913.
Fact 13: The first Valentine’s Day card was sent by Charles, Duke of Orleans, in 1415 to his wife from prison.
Fact 14: Some scholars say that romance was linked to Valentine’s Day because of a belief in England and France during the Middle Ages that birds began to look for their mate from the 14th of February.
Fact 15: Valentine’s Day was imported to the U.S. in the 19th century by British settlers.
Fact 16: The red rose is considered to have been a favorite of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty and hence it came to be related with love. Historians believe that Charles II of Sweden popularized the gifting of the red rose on Valentine’s Day in the 1700’s.
Fact 17: The oldest surviving love poem is written on a clay tablet from the Sumerians, inventors of writing around 3500 BC.