For many, and especially for those in love, mid-February is the most beautiful period of the year, because the 14th day of this month marks Valentine’s Day. Love should be expressed every day, but it is nice to have that one day in the year when we give our loved ones sweets, letters, flowers and various other gifts. Its long history and interesting facts will make you love this holiday even more.
Who exactly is Saint Valentine?
Believe it or not, the real Valentine after whom this day was named is not known today. Historians claim that there are at least two saints of the same name to whom this holiday can be linked. One of them lived and served in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, in the third century. The emperor then forbade young men to marry, because he believed that single men are better warriors than those with families. Saint Valentine opposed this decision and organized secret weddings, which was the reason for his execution in the end. According to other stories, Valentine was a bishop who suffered the same fate because he helped Christians escape from the cruel Roman prisons. It is believed that during his captivity he was the first to sign his love letter with the now well-known saying – “From your Valentine”. Their stories often intersect, which is why it is still not clear whether all this is just a legend, or whether they really existed.
How did Cupid become a symbol of Valentine’s Day?
The oldest information about this figure dates back to 700 BC and is related to Eros, the Greek God of Love. He was then presented as an immortal man with powers with which he could make people fall in love. It was only in the 4th century BC that his image was created, by which he is still recognizable today – a sweet boy who always carries a bow and arrow with a heart at the end. Then known as Amor, and today as Cupid, it was only in the 19th century that he became a symbol of love and this holiday because of its superhuman powers of love.
When and how did the mass exchange of letters begin?
During the 17th century, people began sending and exchanging handwritten letters to their friends and partners. This trend was recognized in the 1840s by the company Ester A. Howland from the USA, which is why it started mass production of printed greeting cards. By 1900, thanks to improvements in printing technology, printed cards began to replace written letters, which later led to an increase in sales of these types of greeting cards and the commercialization of Valentine’s Day. It is estimated that 145 million cards for this holiday are sent annually in the United States, which makes it the second largest holiday for exchanging greeting cards, right after Christmas.
What are the most popular gifts for Valentine’s Day?
A bouquet of roses is definitely on this list, but it has not always been so. It was not until the end of the 17th century that giving flowers became a popular custom, for which we can thank the Swedish King Charles II. On his trip to Persia, he ordered the so-called “language of flowers” – a bouquet of different flowers with a specific meaning in which red roses symbolize deep love.
The first heart-shaped candy box was made by Richard Cadbury when he started using different packages of chocolate for Valentine’s Day in the middle of the 19th century in order to increase sales. Today, the number of sold heart-shaped boxes is more than 36 million a year, which is over 26 million kilograms of chocolate.
Jewelry is the third and most expensive category of products on this list. According to the data of the National Retail Federation from the USA, in 2020, 5.8 billion dollars were spent in America on the purchase of jewelry for this holiday.
Regardless of whether you celebrate this day of love, and in what way, we hope that you will spend it in the circle of dearest people, because, quoting the famous French writer Georges Sand, we want to remind you that “There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.”