Don’t be stupid, Cupid—learn all about St. Valentine, chocolates and the holiday’s origin
What’s love got to do with it?
The ancient Romans celebrated a spring festival called Lupercalia, when young men would draw the names of eligible young women from a box and would be paired together until the next year’s celebration. When Christianity was introduced to the Roman world, this festival was moved to the 14th of February, St. Valentine’s Day.
Chapel of love
Why was Valentine a saint? There were actually several Christian martyrs named Valentine that are honored on February 14—but one in particular inspired a day celebrating love. Around 200 A.D., Roman emperor Claudius was having trouble recruiting men into his army, so he banned marriages. A priest named Valentine continued performing secret marriages, so Claudius sentenced the priest to death. According to legend, on the night before his death, the priest wrote a letter to his jailer’s daughter and signed it "From your Valentine."
Signed, sealed delivered
Handwritten valentines have been around since the Middle Ages, but the concept of exchanging valentine cards with sweethearts the way that we do today began in Victorian England. By the 1800s, paper valentines were being mass-produced in factories there, complete with lace and bows. This year, more than 145 million greeting cards will be purchased for Valentine’s Day, according to the Greeting Card Association—and that doesn’t even include the packaged valentine kits that kids bring to school!
Sugar pie, honey bunch
Why should your husband buy you chocolates for Valentine’s Day? Tell him it’s tradition: In the 1800s, doctors often prescribed chocolate as a treatment for heartbreak, according to Hershey’s. And remind him to pick up some flowers, too: Over $17 million roses are sold yearly.