1. Valentine’s Day started with the Romans.
There are two theories about the origin of Valentine’s Day. According to History.com, one is that the day derives from Lupercalia, a raucous Roman festival on February 15th where men stripped naked and spanked young maidens in the hopes of upping their fertility.
The second theory is that while the Roman Emperor Claudius II was trying to bolster his army, he forbade young men to marry, because apparently single men make better soldiers. In the spirit of love, St. Valentine defied the ban and performed secret marriages, History.com reports. For his disobedience, Valentine was executed on February 14th.
2. Passing out Valentines is a 600-year-old tradition.
Each year, kids in classrooms across America hand out Valentine’s Day cards to their classmates. According to History.com, the oldest record of a valentine was a poem Charles Duke of Orleans wrote to his wife when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.
3. Esther Howland is the first manufacturer of Valentines.
She became known as the “Mother of the American Valentine” for the artistry and sentiment of her designs, Time reports. Before Howland commercialized them, American valentines were less romantic and more comic. Her inspiration came from the thoughtful and sweet greeting cards that were circulating in England and she decided to sell similar designs in the U.S. They took off: During the 1850s she earned $100,000 annually, which is about $3 million today, according to Time.
4. Today, millions of greeting cards are purchased every year.
We’re talking 144 million greeting cards being exchanged industry-wide every year for Valentine’s Day in the U.S. alone, according to Hallmark.
5. Wearing your heart on your sleeve is more than just a phrase.
In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names to see who their Valentine would be, the LA Times reports. According to Smithsonian, they would wear the name pinned to their sleeve for one week so that everyone would know their supposed true feelings.
6. People consider pink and red the colors of love.
According to the National Confectioners Association, around 65% of Americans believe that the packaging of Valentine’s Day candies and chocolates should be red and pink.
7. Candy hearts were originally medical lozenges.
In 1847, Boston pharmacist Oliver Chase invented a machine that simplified the lozenge production process, resulting in the first candy-making machine, according to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. After identifying an opportunity to revolutionize the candy business, Chase shifted his focus to candy production with Necco wafers.
8. The candies got their iconic shape much later.
It wasn’t until 15 years after the creation of Necco wafers that Daniel Chase’s brother, Oliver Chase, developed a way to press words onto the candy lozenges with a felt roller pad and vegetable food coloring. According to The Huffington Post, the conversation candies officially became heart-shaped in 1902, and today Necco says about 100,000 of them are sold each year.
9. The heart shape wasn’t always a romantic symbol.
According to Time, the heart was once widely believed to be humans’ center of memory, where feelings of love were recorded. However, we have French and Italian artists from the 14th century to thank for the symbol that we know and love today, as they were the first ones to start using this motif in their work.
10. Cupid’s bow and arrow aren’t just for show.
Via Women’s Day