10 Valentine’s Day Factoids

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Every February 14 millions of people celebrate love on Valentine’s Day. Candy, flowers, jewelry and lots of fancy dinners are given in the name of romance and passion. But how did much of the world come to celebrate love on this particular day? And what of significance has ever happened on this day? Here are ten things to know about this very special day.

  1. We are told that Valentine’s Day is named after St. Valentine, but according to history.com there are about a dozen St. Valentines. Their website says, “Valentinus”—from the Latin word for worthy, strong or powerful—was a popular moniker between the second and eighth centuries AD, several martyrs over the centuries have carried this name. The day is celebrated to commemorate the day of his death, whoever he was.
  1. More than 250 million red roses are sold on Valentine’s Day per the Society of American Florists.
  1. Another history.com article says that the reason that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February is because that was the time when Romans celebrated Lupercalia, a pagan fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the god of agriculture. In the process of trying to convert pagans to Christianity, the early founders of the church were said to have simply changed who was honored on the date.
  1. During the Luperci festival, women were not wined, dined and given flowers, but were flogged with blood spattered goat hides. And they liked it. Why? Because it was supposed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Then they got to spend that year making whoopee with an eligible bachelor in the city with whom they were paired via lottery.
  1. The Daily Meal reports that 58 million pounds of chocolates are sold on Valentine’s Day.
  1. St. Valentine was thought to be a priest who was beheaded by the Roman Emperor Claudius II for marrying Christian couples after such an act was outlawed.
  1. Even though we do not know who St. Valentine was, pieces of his skull can be found in reliquaries in Catholic Churches in Rome, Ireland, France, England, Scotland and the Czech Republic. He gets around.
  1. Geoffrey Chaucer of “Canterbury Tales” fame may have invented Valentine’s Day when writing of courtly love in the late 14th century. In his poem, “Parliament of Foules,” he says, “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”
  1. There is a female St. Valentine, or rather Valentina. She was burned at the stake for standing by her sister Thea in 308 AD. They were listening to the reading of Christian scripture when they were dragged away.
  1.  A number of historical events have happened on February 14, including, according to peoplehistory.com — the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre when seven gangsters in Chicago were murdered by a rival gang in 1929; on the same day and year Sir Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin; in 1912 Arizona became the 48th state in the Union; in 1912, the League of Women Voters was established; in 1939, the German Battleship Bismarck was launched; and in 2014, the same-sex marriage ban was overturned in Virginia.