Valentine’s Day: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Valentine’s Day.

  • Valentine’s Day is celebrated every year on 14th February in lots of countries around the world.
  • Valentine’s Day is sometimes referred to as the Feast of Saint Valentine or Saint Valentine’s Day.
  • It began as a celebration of two Christian saints, Saint Valentine of Rome and Saint Valentine of Terni.
  • Legend has it that Saint Valentine of Rome was imprisoned by the Romans for aiding persecuted Christians. He was questioned by the Roman Emperor Claudius II and he was executed for attempting to convert the Emperor to Christianity.
  • Other stories of Saint Valentine of Rome tell of him performing a miracle, when he was in prison, to heal the daughter of Asterius, his jailer. Before his execution, Valentine wrote to Julia, the jailer’s daughter, signing it ‘Your Valentine’, thereby writing the first Valentine’s card.
  • Saint Valentine is said to have worn an amethyst ring with bearing an image of Cupid.
  •  In the Middle Ages, Valentine’s Day became associated with romance and courtly love.
  • The earliest Valentine’s message to have survived is a short poem written by the Duke of Orleans to his wife in the 15th century. When it was written, the Duke of Orleans was in the Tower of London, a prisoner of the English following his role in the Battle of Agincourt.
  • In 1477 Margery Brewes wrote a Valentine’s message to her husband-to-be, John Paston. The message has survived and it is part of the Paston Letters.
  • Valentine’s Day is spoken about in Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

Vintage Valentine's Day card

  • In 18th century England, people expressed their love on Valentine’s Day by presenting their loved one with flowers, sweets, chocolates and Valentine’s Day greeting cards (Valentines). Most Valentines were sent anonymously.
  • By the 19th century, Valentines were produced in factories.
  • The first mass-produced Valentines in the United States were manufactured by Esther Howland in the late 1840s.
  • In the UK, more than £1 billion is spent on Valentine’s Day and more than 20 million cards are sent.
  • In the US, more than 150 million cards are sent.
  • Symbols of Valentine’s day include heart-shapes, images of Cupid and doves.

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