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LOVE YOU TO PIECES: A FEW FACTS ABOUT VALENTINE’S DAY
Each year on February 14th many of us exchange cards, gifts, flowers or candy with one or more of our loved ones. The “day of romance” which we call Valentine’s Day, is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but has its origins in the Roman holiday called Lupercalia. This festival in Rome, originally in the middle of February, was officially the start of springtime. As part of the celebrations boys drew the names of girls from a box. They pinned the name on their sleeve, which was the origin of the saying “wearing your heart on your sleeve”.
Later, when Christianity replaced the old Roman traditions, the holiday was moved to February 14th, which was the feast-day of several martyrs named Valentine. One early account describes Valentine as a temple priest who was beheaded under the Emperor Claudius for helping Christian couples to wed. Valentine was jailed and executed for going against the wishes of the emperor. He wrote a love note from his prison cell to the jailor’s daughter and signed it “from your Valentine”. Sound familiar? Later the pagan fertility ritual held in February was abolished by the Pope who proclaimed February 14th Valentine’s Day, thus establishing this feast day on the Catholic Calendar of Saints. The poet Chaucer was the first to link St. Valentine with romantic love.
Some traditions associated with Valentine’s Day came from unusual sources. Casanova, known as the “world’s greatest lover” ate chocolate to make him virile. In the 1800’s physicians advised their patients to eat chocolate to calm their pining for love. Chocolate is now the confection of choice for expressing love. Over 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold every Valentine’s Day, and over $1 billion worth of chocolate is purchased for this holiday.
Red roses were the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Red roses stand for strong romantic feelings and thus are the flower of choice for this celebration. 73% of men and 27% of women buy flowers on Valentine’s Day. 189 million stemmed roses are sold for Valentine’s Day in the U.S. alone. California produces 60% of roses sold in the United States but during the winter months most roses come from South America.
Cards are another way to say “I Love You”. 85% of cards are purchased by women. Teachers receive the most Valentines, followed by children, mothers, wives, sweethearts, and pets. Over 50% of cards are purchased in the six days prior to Valentine’s Day, making it a procrastinator’s holiday.
Since we all need and appreciate love, here’s hoping you all receive a bundle of it this Valentine’s Day.