Every year most of us celebrate Valentine’s Day and dole out the cards, candy and jewelry to people who are important to us. But did you know that 144 million cards are exchanged each Valentine’s Day? Or that Valentine’s Day is about a 600-year-old tradition? Learn about these and more Valentine’s Day fun facts below:
1. Valentine’s Day likely got its start with the Romans
Although the exact origins of Valentine’s Day are somewhat shrouded in mystery, there are two prevailing theories of how the holiday began. According to History.com, one theory is that the day was created by the Catholic church to Christianize Lupercalia, a raucous Roman fertility festival held on February 15.
The second theory is that the holiday came from someone named St. Valentine. As legend would have it, Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II forbade young men to marry (because single men make better soldiers than those with family at home), and Valentine defied him and continued to marry young people in secret. When his actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that Valentine be put to death.
2. The oldest recorded Valentine was from 1415.
According to History.com, the oldest Valentine on record was a poem from Charles Duke of Orleans to his wife when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415 after being captured in battle.
3. Candy hearts were originally made to be medical lozenges.
In 1847, Boston pharmacist Oliver Chase wanted to get in on the medical lozenge business, but the process to make them was far too complex and time consuming. Chase invented a machine that rolled lozenge dough and pressed wafers into perfect discs—both inadvertently creating America’s first candy-making machine and also what we know now as New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) wafers. In 1866, Chase figured out how to print messages on the candy, and in 1902 the first conversational candy hearts were made.
4. Americans spend a lot on Valentine’s Day
According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, Americans spent $18.2 billion for Valentine's Day in 2017 and were expected to spend $19.6 billion in 2018. On average, men spend $150 on Valentine's Day and women spend $74.
5. Valentine’s Day is a holiday for procrastinators
Research from Hallmark shows that more than 50 percent of all Valentine’s Day cards are purchased in the six days prior to the holiday.
6. Jewelry is a big Valentine’s Day purchase
Lately U.S. shoppers have been spending more on jewelry to commemorate the holiday and celebrate the ones they love. Research from First Data shows that in 2017, Valentine's Day jewelry buyers spent an average of $378. You don’t have to break the bank for this year’s Valentine’s Day bauble, though. Insider tip—check out Unclaimed Baggage’s jewelry counter for great deals just in time for the holiday!
7. Chocolate boxes got their start in the mid 1800s
Richard Cadbury, a name recognized for delicious treats, introduced the first box of Valentine's Day chocolates in 1868. According to research from the National Confectioners Association, chocolate sales represented 75% or more of Valentine’s Day candy purchases. What can we say—we love our chocolate.
8. As many as 6 million couples will get engaged on Valentine’s Day
February is the second most popular month after December for proposals. According to research, millennials are all about the tradition. A survey from online diamond retailer James Allen found that among married respondents ages 25-34, more than 41 percent would have liked it if their partners had proposed on Valentine’s Day.