Most of us remember that Valentine’s Day arrives on February 14. That’s an easy one. When we consider this annual occasion of love, affection, and romantic expression a few things come to mind. Hearts, for example. Everyone thinks of hearts. Cupid, perhaps. A dramatic vision of Cupid pulling back his bow to “strike” the next lucky couple with his arrows of true love. We might think of the color red, which seems to be so prevalent during the month of February. And probably the most common thought generated by the approach of Valentine’s Day is: “I need to remember to buy my sweetheart something special.” That’s one we definitely should not forget!
But that’s usually it when it comes to our knowledge of Valentine’s Day. We know what the holiday looks like. And whether we’re romantics at heart, aspiring romantics, or somewhere in-between, because it is important to most people, the occasion is highly celebrated. But there is a lot more to Valentine’s Day than you might expect, and there are some interesting, lesser-known facts about the holiday that might actually surprise you. In today’s post, we’re going to be looking at 5 of them. We hope you enjoy it!
We Don’t Know Who Valentine Really Was
Maybe you’ve heard that Valentine’s Day and the word valentine originated from a person who was given sainthood by the Catholic Church: Saint Valentine. However, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, at least three different Saint Valentines are mentioned in association with February 14, all martyred in Rome around the time of the 2nd Century.
So, which one was the real Saint Valentine? And how did all the associations with love and romance come into being? There are many circulated stories that try to answer those questions. Particularly regarding which Saint Valentine was THE Saint Valentine. But concerning his connection to love and romance, that is no doubt a result of a poem that wasn’t written until the 14th century.
English poet Geoffrey Chaucer, most famous for “The Canterbury Tales” he would write later, penned a poem around the 1370s or 1380s called “Parliament of Fowls,” linking “Saint Valentine’s Day” with romance. This would later inspire people to write poems to those they loved. These poems became known as “valentines,” and the rest is history.
Maybe Love Is Not Priceless After All
Of course, no one can put a price tag on love. The value of such a thing cannot be quantified. But when it comes to Valentine’s Day gift giving, Americans are very generous. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, we spent nearly $21.8B on Valentine’s Day gifts in 20211, and the numbers for 2022 will probably be even bigger.
This makes perfect sense because Valentine’s Day has expanded over the years. It has evolved into a holiday of love inclusive for all. Though its origins were romantic in nature, February 14 provides an opportunity for family members and friends to celebrate their important relationships as well. In fact, there’s even one special bond you might not have considered…
Pets Get Lots of Love on February 14 Too
Our furry friends need Valentine’s Day love as well! Did you know that the $21.8B spent on Valentine’s Day last year also included our beloved pets in the final numbers? It’s true. But that doesn’t mean the holiday has just gone to the dogs. Cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and even domestic pigs all have the opportunity to partake of the Valentine’s Day bounty, thanks to their loving owners. Everything from cute apparel and new housing, to toys, treats, and pet spa sessions. Have you picked out a valentine for your precious pet yet?
The Heart Wasn’t Always a Romantic Symbol
Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle argued passionately that the heart was the source of our strongest emotions. Emotions like love, for example. But if you’ve seen an anatomically heart, you know that its shape looks nothing like the heart symbol associated with Valentine’s Day. So how did that all come about?
It is suspected that the artists were responsible once again. Just like the associations of love and Saint Valentine was born out of poetry. The popular shape of the heart – as we know it today – probably came from creative inspiration in various paintings, illustrations, and literature around the time of the 14th Century. The shape began to show up in these works of art and essentially “went viral” during a time long before social media. As a result, the symbol and its associations were permanently fixed into our history.
Valentine’s Day Is a Popular Occasion to Tie the Knot
Maybe you knew that one already. But did you also know there are many romantic-sounding cities and towns across the United States? Some of these sound like they would make ideal wedding destinations. What do you think?
Loving, New Mexico
Loves Park, Illinois
Of course, if you wanted to make it an international wedding, there’s always Paris, France. Was there something that really surprised you? One thing that stood out more than anything else? It’s always nice to have a little fun with holidays like Valentine’s Day, digging into the history a bit. But if you are still shopping for Cupid’s big day, consider The Bradford Exchange. We are a wonderful place to find original gifts to share your love on February 14 (and every other day of the year).5 Valentine's Day Facts That Will Surprise You by The Bradford Exchange