10 interesting facts about Valentine’s day
1.In 2011, Iran banned Valentine cards, gifts, teddy bears, and other Valentine tokens as part of an Islamic republic backlash against the spread of Western culture. Additionally, some religious activists in India and Pakistan protest Valentine’s Day as a day of shame of lust. They view it as a Western holiday in which Westerners satisfy their “sex thirst.”
2.Red hearts are a ubiquitous Valentine symbol. Red is traditionally associated with the color of blood. At one time, people thought that the heart, which pumps blood, was the part of the body that felt love. In fact, when the Egyptians mummified their dead for burial, they removed every organ but the heart because they believed the heart was the only part of the body necessary for the trip through eternity.
3.Valentine’s Day was first introduced to Japan in 1936 and has become widely popular. However, because of a translation error made by a chocolate company, only women buy Valentine chocolates for their spouses, boyfriends, or friends. In fact, it is the only day of the year many single women will reveal their crush on a man by giving him chocolate. The men don’t return the favor until White Day, a type of “answer day” to Valentine’s Day, which is on March 14.
4.“Quirkyalone Day” is celebrated on February 14 as an alternative to Valentine’s Day. It is geared toward people who “resist the tyranny of coupledom.” Another alternate Valentine’s Day celebration is SAD (Single Awareness Day), which reminds people that they don’t need to be in a relationship to celebrate life.
5.The ancient Roman festival Lupercalia (“festival of the wolf”) is considered to be one precursor to Valentine’s Day. Celebrated from February 13-15, it was a purification and fertility ceremony. Reminiscent of the modern-day exchange of love notes on Valentine’s Day, boys would draw a girl’s name from a box on the eve of the festival and then escort her to the festival the next day—or, some scholars say, she would be his sexual partner for the next year.
6.A True Love Knot, or Endless Knot of Love, was a very popular Valentine in England and the U.S. in the seventeenth century. As their name implies, these Valentines were drawn as a knot and could be read from any line and still make sense.
7.Throughout history, there have been approximately eight St. Valentines. Three of them had special feast days in their honor. The two St. Valentines who most likely inspired Valentine’s Day are Valentine of Terni and Valentine of Rome, though some scholars speculate they are actually one person.
8.The saying “wearing your heart on your sleeve” is from the Middle Ages. Boys at this time would draw names of girls to see who would be their “Valentine” and then wear the name pinned on their sleeve for a week.
9.During the 1700s in England, a girl would pin four bay leaves to her pillow and eat a hard-boiled egg, including the shell, on the eve of St. Valentine’s Day. Supposedly, if she dreamed of a boy that night, she would soon marry him. Girls would also write boys’ names on small pieces of paper, cover them with clay, and drop them into the water. When the clay broke, the papers floated to the top. The first name the girls could read would predict whom they would marry.
10.Saint Valentine is the patron saint of lovers and engaged couples. He is also the patron saint of epilepsy (which he is said to have suffered), plague, greetings, travelers, young people, and bee keepers.
Sources and References:
Aveni, Anthony. 2003. The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
“Hindu and Muslim Anger at Valentine’s.” BBC News. February 11, 2003.
“Historical Events on February 14.” His-Dates.com. 2010.
“Iran Snubs Valentine’s Day.” The Washington Post. January 2, 2011. .
Linder, Melanie. “Valentine’s Day around the World.” Forbes. February 11, 2009.
Sullivan, Meg. “Henry Ansgar Kelly, Valentine’s Day.” UCLA Spotlight. February 1, 2001.
Thompson, Sue Ellen. 2000 (2nd Ed.). Holiday Symbols. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, Inc.