The holidays are barely behind us, but we are headed full-steam toward Valentine’s Day. In the world of sports, all eyes turn to the Super Bowl February 4 and the Olympic Games on February 9. In the flower game, however, the biggest event of the year happens a few days later on February 14. Whether you mark the day with cards, flowers or candy, Valentine’s Day is one of the most anticipated (and sometimes dreaded) days of the year. In honor of the big day, we thought we’d share a few fun facts about Valentine’s Day.
There was more than one Saint Valentine, but the one most associated with Valentine’s Day is the one who defied Emperor Claudius II by helping couples to marry in secret. The emperor felt single men made better soldiers, and forbade them to marry, but Valentine was sympathetic to their plight. Valentine’s actions cost him his head, but he is immortalized centuries later as we celebrate love. Isn’t that romantic?
Nothing takes you back to those classroom Valentine’s Day parties like a box of conversation hearts. Invented in 1866, Necco (New England Confectionery Company) now produces 8 billion conversation hearts each year. Production continues year-round to meet the February demand. Each box contains assorted messages (50-60 different ones are produced each year), including current references like, “IM Me.” If you have a few boxes left once Valentine’s Day has passed, don’t worry. They have a shelf life of five years!
Vernona, Italy, home of William Shakespeare’s fictional lovers Romeo and Juliet, receives approximately 1000 letters addressed to Juliet each year. Letters to Juliet are answered by members of the Club di Guilietta, who take their task very seriously.
Overall, $18.2 billion is spent on Valentine’s Day each year. The average man spends $150; the average woman spends $74. Approximately 9 million people will purchase a Valentine gift for a pet.
Hallmark began mass-producing Valentine’s Day greeting cards in 1913. Today, approximately $1 billion is spent on Valentines, making it the second largest card-giving occasion, behind Christmas. According to Hallmark, 50% of the US population purchases Valentine’s Day greeting cards. Of that number, half are purchased in the six days prior to February 14. Procrastinate much?
Chocolates are a favorite gift choice for Valentine’s Day. We often see those heart-shaped boxes on retail shelves before the Christmas clearance signs even go up. Why chocolates? Historians tell us that physicians in the 1800s advised their patients to eat chocolate to calm their pinings for lost love. Chocolate increases the brain’s level of serotonin, the feel-good chemical. In the mid-1800s, Richard Cadbury produced the first box of chocolates specifically for Valentine’s Day. He designed the heart-shaped boxes himself, adorned with roses and Cupids. Whether we purchase the chocolate to celebrate love, or mourn the lack of it, Americans spend $1 billion on Valentine’s Day chocolates each year.
Flowers remain the most popular expression of Valentine’s Day affection, with red roses topping the list of romantic blooms. Americans will purchase 220 million stems of roses for their Valentines this year.
The tradition of sending flowers comes from a custom of using non-verbal methods of communication. Looking back to the 1800s once again, specific flowers were assigned meanings to convey certain sentiments. Years later, we still honor many of the sentiments attached to our favorite blooms. The classic red rose symbolizes love, beauty, romance and perfection. Tulips stand for perfect love. Peonies are most often associated with romance and bashfulness, with some believing they bring good luck.
Weekday Valentine’s Days are the busiest for florists, as people take advantage of sending flowers to their loved ones at work. With Valentine’s Day falling on Wednesday this year, consider sending an arrangement early in the week. You will get the best selection of flowers before the rush, and the recipient will be the first in the office to receive flowers (making them the envy of their co-workers, and making you the hero).
When it comes to sending flowers, anything goes! According to the Society of American Florists (SAF), about one third of women send flowers to their husbands or boyfriends. No significant other in your life this year? SAF says that about 20% of women will send flowers to themselves for Valentine’s Day. #wewontjudgeyou
Whether you are celebrating with your sweetheart, or celebrating single-hood, have a Happy Valentine’s Day!