History of Valentine's Day: Facts, Origin, Meaning9:15 AM
Tweet This if You Love Is Valentine's Day an official holiday? Each year on February 14...
Is Valentine's Day an official holiday?
What kind of holiday is Valentine's Day officially?
Who imprisoned Valentine Why was he imprisoned?
How many Valentine cards are sent each year?
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History of Valentine’s Day
The Legend of St. Valentine
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.
Origins of Valentine’s Day: A Pagan Festival in February
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To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
Valentine’s Day: A Day of Romance
Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.) Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.
Typical Valentine’s Day Greetings
Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.
Valentine’s Day Facts
Looking for Love
Over 50 percent of all Valentine’s Day cards are purchased in the six days prior to the observance, making Valentine’s Day a procrastinator’s delight. (Source: Hallmark research)
Research reveals that more than half of the U.S. population celebrates Valentine’s Day by purchasing a greeting card. (Source: Hallmark research)
There are 119 single men (i.e., never married, widowed or divorced) who are in their 20s for every 100 single women of the same ages. Corresponding numbers for the following race and ethnic groups are:
- Hispanics: 153 men per 100 women
- Asians (single race): 132 men per 100 women (This ratio is not significantly different from that for Hispanics or non-Hispanic whites.)
- Non-Hispanic whites (single race): 120 men per 100 women
- Blacks (single race): 92 men per 100 women (The numbers of black men and women in this age group are not significantly different from one another.
- Hispanics: 38 men per 100 women
- Non-Hispanic whites (single race): 33 men per 100 women
- Blacks (single race): 33 men per 100 women
- Asians (single race): 28 men per 100 women
904: The number of dating service establishments nationwide as of 2002. These establishments, which include Internet dating services, employed nearly 4,300 people and pulled in $489 million in revenues.
112,185 marriages were performed in Nevada during 2008. So many couples “tie the knot” in the Silver State that it ranked fourth nationally in marriages, even though it’s total population that year among states was 35th.
The estimated U.S. median ages at first marriage for women and men are 25.9 and 27.6 respectively, in 2008. The age for women rose 4.2 years in the last three decades. The age for men at first marriage is up 3.6 years.
Men and women in northeastern states generally have a higher median age at first marriage than the national average. In Massachusetts, for example, women were a median of 27.4 years old and men 29.1 years of age at first marriage. States where people typically marry young include Utah, where women were a median of 21.9 years and men, 23.9 years.
57% and 60% of American women and men, respectively, are 15 or older and currently married (includes those who are separated).
70%: The percentage of men and women ages 30 to 34 in 2008 who had been married at some point in their lives – either currently or formerly.
4.9 million opposite-sex cohabitating couples maintained households in 2005. These couples comprised 4.3 percent of all households.
Candy is Dandy
515 locations produced nonchocolate confectionary products in 2014. These establishments employed 22,234 people.
The total value of shipments in 2014 for firms producing chocolate and cocoa products was $13.9 billion. Nonchocolate confectionery product manufacturing, meanwhile, was a $5.7 billion industry.
3,467 Number of confectionery and nut stores in the United States in 2014. Often referred to as candy stores, they are among the best sources of sweets for Valentine’s Day.
The per capita consumption of candy by Americans in 2015 was 25.7 pounds. Candy consumption has actually declined over the last few years; in 1997, each American gobbled or savored more than 27 pounds of candy a year.
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The combined wholesale value of domestically produced cut roses in 2015 for all operations with $100,000 or more in sales was $39 million. Among all types of cut flowers, roses were third in receipts ($39 million)to lilies ($76.9 million) and tulips ($39.1 million).
There were 21,667 florists nationwide in 2015. These businesses employed 109,915 people.