It's Valentine's Day! The special day of the year when we show our appreciation for people we care about, by exchanging cards, chocolates and even exorbitant gifts. So how did this love fest begin? Read on . . . . .
History . . . . . .
There are many legends about the origin of Valentine's Day. The most popular one dates all the way back to 270 AD, the days of the Roman Empire. According to folklore, Emperor Claudius II was not a big fan of young men getting married during wartime because he believed that single men made better soldiers.
However, Bishop Valentine did not concur and performed many secret marriage ceremonies. When the Emperor discovered this, he sentenced the Bishop to death. While in prison, he fell in love with the jailor's daughter and just before he was executed on February 14th, sent her a note signed - 'From Your Valentine' - A phrase that is still widely used today! In 496 AD Pope Gelasius made it official by setting aside the day to honor St. Valentine and, a fun tradition was born!
Today . . . . . . .
Over one billion cards are sold and exchanged on Valentine's Day worldwide making it one of the biggest days for greeting card companies, second only to Christmas, which takes the lead at 2.6 billion. It's no wonder that the day is sometimes dubbed a 'Hallmark Holiday'. Surprisingly though, a majority of the cards are purchased for teachers and children!
Roses of course, are the preferred flowers of the day. Over 110 million roses exchange hands in the US alone, during the three day period around Valentine's Day!
Chocolates first became popular in the 1,800's when physicians routinely 'prescribed' them for their heart broken patients. Richard Cadbury, the heir to confectionery giant Cadbury's pounced on the idea and began marketing chocolate for Valentine's Day. Sure enough, they became popular not just for lost love, but also, as a way to show love. Today, Americans spend over $1 billion USD on chocolate - most of it encased inside the 35 million heart-shaped boxes that are sold each year.
Also popular, are the candy conversation hearts - According to the candy companies, over a billion are sold each year - enough hearts to stretch from Rome, Italy to Valentine, Arizona more than 20 times!
While it is common to express 'kisses' with the letter 'X', the origin of this symbol has nothing to do with Valentine's Day or love. It is believed that it began during the medieval times, when witnesses who were illiterate signed their names with an 'X' and then kissed it to show their sincerity.
Letters To Juliet Are Real!
Believe it or not, the Italian town of Verona, where Shakespeare's famous play Romeo and Juliet was situated, is still thought of as special. Not only does the town hold a weeklong Valentine's Day festival, it also, receives over 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet each year on this day! What's even more fun is that just like the movie, the hard working women that are part of The Juliet Club actually respond to each one!
Best Valentine's Gift Ever
While there have probably been hundreds of thousand of romantic and extravagant gifts given out on this day, none can beat India's Taj Mahal - Built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan as a memorial to his beautiful wife Mumtaz, this amazing structure is the epitome of true love!
Happy Valentine's Day!
Resources: yumsugar.com,sheknows.com, funtrivia.com