Valentine’s Day is celebrated every February 14 as couples across the globe honor their spouses, partners, and sweethearts. Hundreds of years of traditions and customs have made it into the holiday that we observe today. People think of the best Valentine’s Day ideas for their special someone, the perfect gifts to get them, and how to make those they love feel special. It’s a fun holiday to celebrate, but how much do you really know about Valentine’s Day? Here are 20 interesting facts about the holiday dedicated to love.
1. Valentine’s Day got its start as a Roman fertility festival.
It may be difficult to believe given how innocuous the holiday is nowadays, but the roots of Valentine’s Day stem from a bloody pagan fertility festival dating back to the 6th century B.C. Every year, between February 13 and 15, Romans celebrated Lupercalia by sacrificing animals and slapping women with their hides, which was believed to make them more fertile. Later, notes Britannica.com, the women would be paired off with men “by lottery.” Definitely not the most romantic way to find an S.O.
2. Valentine’s Day was first declared a holiday by a pope.
In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius I made the feast of St. Valentine an official holiday, apparently hoping to expel the pagan rituals of Lupercalia by combining it with St. Valentine’s Day.
3. There was more than one St. Valentine.
And strangely enough, it’s unknown to which Valentine the holiday is dedicated. History does tell us that Pope Gelasius I outlawed Lupercalia at the end of the 5th century, instituting St. Valentine’s Day in its place. But who does the day celebrate specifically?
One legend supposes that the holiday’s patron saint was a third-century Roman priest who defied Claudius II Gothicus. Although the emperor had banned his soldiers from marriage, apparently believing it a distraction, the priest secretly wed young couples—until his actions were discovered and he was martyred.
4. The first Valentine’s Day celebration occurred in Paris.
The first known official celebration of Saint Valentine’s Day took place in Paris on February 14, 1400, which is when King Charles VI of France established La cour amoureuse, or the High Court of Love. The court, entirely run by women, met to deal with marriage contracts, divorces, infidelity, and domestic violence.
5. St. Valentine wasn’t just one person.
You may already know that Valentine’s Day was named after its patron saint, St. Valentine — but there’s actually some confusion surrounding which St. Valentine the holiday technically honors. According to History.com, there are at least two men named Valentine that could’ve inspired the holiday, including one Valentine who was a priest in third-century Rome. As the story goes, this Valentine defied Emperor Claudius II’s ban on marriage (he thought it distracted young soldiers), illegally marrying couples in the spirit of love until he was caught and sentenced to death.
6. In the 1300s, it officially became a holiday associated with love.
At the end of the 5th century, Roman Pope Gelasius officially declared the date of February 14 “St. Valentine’s Day.” It wasn’t until the Middle Ages, though, that the holiday became associated with love and romance, a tradition that first started from the common belief in France and England that birds started their mating season on February 14.
7. Cupid has its roots in Greek mythology.
He’s the charming cherub that appears on Valentine’s Day cards, often depicted with a bow and arrow — but how did Cupid become a common symbol of Valentine’s Day? According to Time, the figure can actually be traced all the way back to 700 B.C., to the Greek god of love named Eros, who was actually a handsome, immortal man with the intimidating power to make people fall in love. It wasn’t until the 4th century BCE that the Romans adopted Eros into the image of a cute little boy with a bow and arrow, naming him “Cupid.” By the turn of the 19th century, Cupid had become linked to Valentine’s Day due to his love-matching powers.
8. Today, millions of greeting cards are purchased every year.
We’re talking 145 million greeting cards being exchanged industry-wide every year for Valentine’s Day in the U.S. alone, according to Hallmark, making it the second-largest holiday for greeting cards after Christmas.
9. Americans spend a lot on love.
According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, Americans spent $20.7 billion for Valentine’s Day in 2019 and were expected to spend $27.4 billion in 2020.
10. And they also spend millions of dollars on gifts for their pets.
Hey, furry friends need love, too! In fact, around 27.6 million American households gave Valentine’s Day presents to their pet dogs in 2020, and more than 17.1 million picked up gifts for their cats. All in all, American households spent an estimated $751.3 million on gifts for their pets on Valentine’s Day.
You probably didn’t know some of these facts, worry, almost nobody. Although it has not always been a date to celebrate love, it is today. Join us for our two-day event (February 12-13th) where we celebrate love and your special someone.
A stunning outdoor experience at The Pleasant Garden, surrounded by nature, candle lights, and carefully-curated live entertainment by talented local artists.