If your other half 'forgets' to book a hot date or buy flowers, at least these fun Valentine's Day facts will make you smile…
We all know that 14 February marks the day where we get to be bowled over (or disappointed!) by the one we love, inundated with beautiful blooms, and taken out for a schmancy pants Valentine’s Day dinner date. Heck, we might even get the chance to flirt with our partners, if the kiddos haven’t worn us down with their endless need for entertaining, feeding and watering prior to our hot date. But before all that, we say steal five mins to take the weight off your feet, grab a mum-sized mug of coffee and find out the fun things you never knew about Valentine’s Day… (if nothing else, it will give you fodder to chat about over your oyster starter for two).
11 facts you never knew about Valentine’s Day
1. The origins of Valentine’s Day
This celebration can be traced all the way back to a Pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia, which was celebrated in ancient Rome during the sixth century. Roman priests would sacrifice animals – usually goats or dogs (yikes) – and use the hides to smack women on their butts. Apparently, this practice encouraged fertility. The festival also included random matchmaking and coupling to ward off infertility and evil spirits. Good thing we’re not doing it anymore!
2. Why 14 February?
The festival of Lupercalia celebrated on 15 February, was banned in the late 5th century by Pope Gelasius I and was replaced by St Valentine’s day. Interestingly it was not a day to celebrate romance as it is today. It’s only somewhere in the 14th century that love came into the picture.
3. The Mystery of St Valentine
The name Valentine’s Day celebrates the Catholic feast of Saint Valentine, added to the liturgical calendar in 500 A.D. The irony of this piece of history – there were several martyred saints recognised by the church with the name Valentines or Valentinus. No one is sure which saint the feast is in honour of. All we do know is that the day gets its origins from ancient Roman and Christian traditions.
4. Stats, stats and more stats
Valentine’s Day is a day of whopping stats!
- Apparently, 145 million cards are exchanged worldwide on 14 February. Save the polar bears though, people: recycle those words of love!
- Bling, bling: in the US alone, Americans will spend roughly $26 billion on gifts this year, each gift averaging $300!
- It’s all about the roses: approximately 250 million of them are cultivated globally for Valentine’s Day each year.
5. Stupid Cupid you’re a real mean guy
We are all familiar with that baby angel aka Cupid, prancing around with fluffy wings and a quiver of magic love-inspired arrows. Don’t get fooled by those cherubic features cause Cupid was actually naughty and mean little guy! In Roman mythology, Cupid is the son of the goddess of love, Venus, and a messenger of the gods. He helped Venus on mischievous missions to inspire love or passion in victims shot by his arrows. Ouch! From the Valentine’s stats mentioned above, we say Cupid has been at it and pretty hard at work! Beware of the arrow folks!
6. A rose by any other name…
Speaking of roses, red roses are the favourite flowers of the goddess Venus, goddess Isis of Egypt and many other goddesses of love. It represents strong feelings, love and romance. Also, there’s a significance to the number of stalks you give or receive during Valentine’s Day. Giving out one rose stalk signifies love, while giving two or 15 roses means you’re apologising. (A good fact to remember if you’re atoning for your sins via flowers!) If you receive 12 stalks, that person wants you or is proposing marriage. What if you get 50 roses? Well, someone must really love you or they’re extremely rich. Hopefully both!
As for why the rose was chosen as the flower of love- it was believed that the rose was created by the goddess of love, Aphrodite, and her lover Adonis. Red roses sprouted from the ground when it was watered by Aphrodite’s tears and Adonis’s blood, signifying love until death. A box of tissues please… sniff!
7. Teachers, we love you!
If you are a teacher, a mother or a pet then you have a really good chance of receiving a card this year. Teachers bag the most cards of all, followed by kids (awwww), mothers, wives, sweethearts and pets. Sorry, husbands!
8. Loving Cadbury since 1840
Richard Cadbury was sitting on a goldmine when he produced the first box of heart-shaped choccies especially for Valentine’s Day back in 1840. Fast forward to today, and roughly 36 million boxes of chocolates are sold across the world on a day that should perhaps be re-named Diet Abandonment Day.
9. South Korea is the land of love
If you are looking for a new and exciting holiday destination, and a reason to celebrate all things love, then South Korea is where you should jet off to. Apparently, the 14th of every month is dedicated to romance.
10. Dating before Tinder
Back in the Middle Ages, instead of relying on clever apps like Tinder, youngsters looking for romance drew names from a bowl to see who would end up as their Valentine. Names would be pinned onto sleeves for one week for everyone to see (including, hopefully, their intended). Now you know where the expression “wear your heart on your sleeve” came from. Zero swiping involved!
11. The many Valentine’s Days celebrated in China
After South Korea, China ranks second with the most number of V-Day celebrations – there are six in total!
- The first is, of course, 14 February.
- Depending on the lunar calendar and the Lunar New Year celebrations, the 15th day of the first month marks the Lantern Festival. This is the first of two traditional Chinese Valentine’s Day. On this day, folks get to eat tang yuan, a sweet mochi-like dumpling filled with peanut or sesame paste. The modern version swaps those with chocolate or rose flavour. Yum! This year’s Lantern Festival was celebrated on 5 February 2023.
- Exactly one month later is White Day (14 March), where it’s celebrated with the women giving their partner chocolates. This day is also celebrated in Japan, Vietnam, and South Korea.
- The next Valentine’s celebration falls on 5 May – or more commonly known as 5/20. The growing internet culture, plus the fact that 520 sounds like Mandarin for “I love you”, is why this day and date is celebrated. Only the younger generations are into this celebration.
- Following that is the Qi Xi Festival, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar. This festival comes from the tale of two lovers who are only able to meet each other only once a year. This year, it falls on 22 August. This is the second traditional Chinese Valentine’s Day.
- And finally, the date that you would be very familiar with right now, is 11/11 (11 November). This date is also referred to as Singles Day and was chosen specifically because the two double lines represent “being single”. The story goes that students in Nanjing University wanted to dedicate a day to celebrate being single. Nowadays, it’s just more of a major shopping affair. Hurray consumerism!
Want more Valentine’s Day facts? We consulted the HoneyKids’ kids for their take on L.O.V.E… watch below!
Happy Valentine’s Day, all!