|The History of Valentine's
Approximately one billion
Valentine cards are exchanged each year...the largest seasonal card-selling
occasion of the year next to Christmas.
Day cards (83%) are purchased by women. However, the number of cards purchased
by men (currently 17%) is gradually rising, thought by some sources to
be due to the fact that men often purchase two cards for their siginificant
others...an amusing one and the obligatory romantic one which they believe
is expected of them.
Half of all consumers
prefer to receive a humorous Valentine, followed by a romantic greeting
(31%) and then a more risque form of card (8.2%). More than one-third of
women (36%) and 26% of males prefer to receive a romantic Valentine. 13%
of males prefer a more sexy Valentine, whereas only 3.5% of women prefer
this variety of card.
February 14 is
the most important holiday for florists, accounting for 32% of annual sales.
73% of people who
buy flowers to send on Valentine's Day are male...only 27% are female.
60% of American roses, but the vast majority sold on Valentine's Day in
the United States are imported...mostly from South America.
million roses...the majority of them being red...will be sold and delivered
within a three-day time period during the Valentine's Day celebrations.
36% of males and
28% of females put off their Valentine's Day shopping until February 14
or the day before...64% of consumers will plan to do their shopping a week
or more prior to the date.
Males tend to spend
more money on Valentine's Day gifts than do females and are more likely
to buy big-ticket items...the average amount spent being $95.00.
of pet owners will give a Valentine's Day gift to their pet.
Bell applied for his patent on the telephone on Valentine's Day in 1876.
The chief colors
associated with Valentine's Day are pink, red and white. Pink is a delicate,
almost innocent shade of red and is also connected with Saint Valentine,
whose burial was said to have caused the pink almond tree to blossom. Red
is a symbol of warmth and feeling...the color of the heart, while white
represents purity and faith...a faith between two who love each other.
Every February, across
the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones,
all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and
why do we celebrate this holiday? The history of Valentine's Day -- and
its patron saint -- is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February
has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today,
contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who
was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient
rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints
named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.
One legend contends that
Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When
Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those
with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men -- his crop
of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree,
defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in
secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that
he be put to death.
Other stories suggest
that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape
harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.
According to one legend,
Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in
prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl --
who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement.
Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed
'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although
the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly
emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic
figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of
the most popular saints in England and France.
While some believe that
Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate
the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial -- which probably occurred
around 270 A.D -- others claim that the Christian church may have decided
to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort
to 'christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient
Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered
a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them
out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout
their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February
15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture,
as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
To begin the festival,
members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at the
sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome,
were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests
would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification.
The boys then sliced the
goat's hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took
to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the
goathide strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched
with the hides because it was believed the strips would make them more
fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all
the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's
bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired
for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D.
The Roman 'lottery' system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian
and outlawed. Later, during the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in
France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating
season, which added to the idea that the middle of February -- Valentine's
Day -- should be a day for romance. The oldest known valentine still in
existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife
while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at
the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting, which was written in 1415, is part
of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.
Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named
John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.
In Great Britain, Valentine's
Day began to be popularly celebrated around the seventeenth century. By
the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers
in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten
notes. By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written
letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were
an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct
expression of one's feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also
contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine's Day
greetings. Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in
the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began to sell the first
mass-produced valentines in America.
According to the Greeting
Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each
year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of
the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.)
Approximately 85 percent
of all valentines are purchased by women. In addition to the United States,
Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France,
Valentine greetings were
popular as far back as the Middle Ages (written Valentine's didn't begin
to appear until after 1400), and the oldest known Valentine card is on
display at the British Museum. The first commercial Valentine's Day greeting
cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland.
Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations
with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap".
Special thanks to American