Who was Saint Valentine?
There might have been two or three different Saint Valentines, but the most likely one was Saint Valentine who defied Emperor Claudius II. At the time, Claudius had banned marriage because he thought it distracted young soldiers from their duty. Valentine felt differently and he illegally married couples until he was caught. When he was sentenced to death, young couples would visit his prison cell with gifts of flowers and cards. It is said that he died on February 14.
Valentine’s Day Cards
The oldest record of a valentine being sent was a poem written in 1415 by a French duke named Charles to his wife. He wrote the note when he was 21 years old and imprisoned in the Tower of London. One of the lines in the poem “I am already sick of love, My very gentle Valentine. People started exchanging handwritten notes during the 17th century, and it was in the 1840s that the first Valentine’s Day cards were mass-produced in the USA by Esther Howland. She is credited with commercializing Valentine’s Day cards and is remembered for her elaborate cards made with lace and ribbons. Nowadays, almost 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular greeting card–giving occasion, after Christmas.
Wear your Heart on your Sleeve
In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their Valentine would be. They would wear this name pinned onto their sleeves for one week for everyone to see. This was the origin of the expression “to wear your heart on your sleeve.”
Gifts for Pets
Love is always in the air when it comes to our pets. Based on retail statistics, about 3% of pet owners will give gifts to their pets on this day.
Valentine’s Day is one of the popular days to pop the question, with as many as 6 million US couples getting engaged on February 14. And according to the results of a recent survey, Valentine’s Day was voted the best day of the year to propose and of those people who voted, 40% were men.
Valentine’s Day across the world
You could go to Finland where Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä, which translates as“Friend’s day.” It’s more about remembering your friends than your loved ones.
Valentine’s Day is a popular holiday for young couples in South Korea. The gift-giving starts on February 14th, when it’s up to women to woo their men with chocolates, sweets and flowers. The tables turn on March 14th, a holiday known as White Day, when men not only shower their sweethearts with chocolates and flowers, but up the ante with a gift. And for those who don’t have much to celebrate on either Valentine’s Day or White Day, there is a third holiday: Black Day. On April 14th, it’s customary for singles to mourn their solitary status by eating dark bowls of jajangmyeon, or black bean-paste noodles.