Valentine’s Day has been around for centuries, long before the chocolate and cards that help define it today were around. While it finds its roots as a Christian holiday with some pagan traditions, the modern romantic holiday has simply become a day for lovebirds everywhere. Here are some fun facts and history that helped shape how we know it today.
The First Valentine: While the exact origin of Valentine’s Day is unknown, one of the prominent legends revolves around a man named Valentinus who was imprisoned for his Christian beliefs and later executed on Feb. 14. While jailed, he cured the blindness of a young girl who regularly visited, and he wrote her a letter before his execution signed “from your Valentine.”
Valentine’s Day Cost: No one said love was cheap. The National Retail Federation estimated that Americans spent $19.7 billion, an average of $146.84 each, on Valentine’s Day in 2016. That’s a lot of cards, hearts and chocolates from just over half of the population who celebrated the holiday.
Chocolate: This sweet treat and Valentine’s Day go back to the 1800s when Richard Cadbury, of chocolate manufacturing fame, started putting the company’s candies in heart-shaped boxes. Decorated with images of cupids and rosebuds, these boxes were often kept long after the chocolates were gone to store romantic keepsakes like locks of hair and love letters.
Sweets and Bubbly: During the week of Valentine’s Day, it is estimated that Americans purchase about 58 million pounds of chocolate and 174,000 gallons of sparkling wine.
Cards: According to Hallmark, about 114 millions Valentine’s Day cards are exchange, marking the holiday as the second largest for giving greeting cards. The first mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards were sold in the late 1840s by Esther Howland or “The Mother of the American Valentine” who made the cards with lace and other feminine adornments. Hallmark offered its first Valentine’s Day card in 1913.
Flowers: Feb. 14 marks the busiest day of the year for florists. Red roses are the most popular purchase with an estimated 250 million flowers produced for the holiday. When it comes to colored roses, pink is the second most popular followed by white, mixed color, lavender, yellow, orange and coral. Mixed flower bouquets, tulips and lilies are also common choices for Valentine’s Day flowers.