Now that I have that off my chest, I did promise to bring you a fun blog today. And I hope I won't disappoint. To that end, I have collected a few fun facts about Valentine's Day that you can share with family and friends. Let's get started, shall we?
1. Valentine's Day started with the Romans. There are two popular theories. The first, according to History.com, is that the day derives from Lupercalia, a raucous Roman festival on February 15th. Since this is a family blog, I'll just leave it at that. The second theory is that while the Roman Emperor Claudius II was trying to bolster his army, he forbade young men to marry because apparently, single men make better soldiers. In the spirit of love, St. Valentine defied the ban and performed secret marriages. For his disobedience, Valentine was executed on February 14th.
2. Passing out Valentines is a 600-year-old tradition. Each year, kids in classrooms across America hand out Valentine's Day cards to their classmates. According to History.com, the oldest record of a valentine was a poem Charles Duke of Orleans wrote to his wife when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.
3. Esther Howlands was the first manufacturer of Valentine's Day cards. She became known as the "Mother of the American Valentine" for the artistry and sentiment of her designs. Howland commercialized them, American valentines were less romantic and more comic. Her inspiration came from the thoughtful and sweet greeting cards that were circulating in England and she decided to sell similar designs in the U.S. They took off: During the 1850s she earned $100,000 annually, which is about $3 million today.
4. Wearing your heart on your sleeve is more than just a schmaltzy phrase. In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a pot of all the local singles to see who their Valentine would be. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, they would wear the name pinned to their sleeve for one week so that everyone would know their supposed true feelings.
5. Those candy hearts that children love to give and receive started off as medical lozenges. In 1847, Boston pharmacist Oliver Chase invented the machine that simplified the lozenge production process, resulting in the first candy-making machine. After identifying an opportunity to revolutionize the candy business, Chase shifted his focus to candy production with Necco wafers.
6. The heart wasn't always a romantic symbol. The heart was once widely believed to be humans' center of memory, where feelings of love were recorded. However, we have French and Italian artists from the 14th century to thank for the symbol that we know and love today, as they were the first ones to start using this motif in their work.
7. The chocolate box has been around for more than 140 years. In addition to creating arguably the richest, creamiest, and sweetest chocolate on the market, Richard Cadbury also introduced the first box of Valentine's Day chocolates in 1868. And there's a favorite candy in each box. can you guess what it is? If your answer is caramel, you're right! According to the National Confectioners Association, caramels are the most popular flavor in chocolate boxes, followed by chocolate-covered nuts, chocolate-filled, cream-filled, and coconut.
8. Who says you can't be your own Valentine? In 2015, 18% of women sent themselves flowers. You see, the frog is right!
9. Whether you send or hand-carry a bouquet to your special someone, be sure the flowers are tied with lace. The word “lace” comes from the Latin laques, meaning “to snare or net,” as in to catch a person’s heart.
10. And don't forget your pet! On Valentine's Day, don't forget that your pet gives you unconditional love each and every day. Don't they deserve a little something in return? Americans are expected to spend a near-record high of $751 million on Valentine's Day gifts for their pets this year, an average of $5.50 per person. That's compared with $593 million last year.
So there you have it. Irwin's Top Ten fun facts about Valentine's Day. Please enjoy your day, whatever plans your plans include. Love is in the air and that's a feeling that we desperately need more of. Throw caution to the wind and celebrate this Valentine's Day like never before. Wish everyone you meet a little love today. Give it and receive it.
"The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart." ~ Helen Keller