7 Things You Didn't Know About Valentine’s Day
In this decadent day and age where a cup of coffee is a major component of the food pyramid, something else reigns supreme: our generation’s enthusiasm for all things related to love. We love the idea of love. We love being in love. We also love celebrating love. Therefore, swiping right to do something special or buy a little something-something on Valentine’s Day has never been a question. After all, the glorious Saint Valentine’s Day is one of the most important days of the year for making our loved one(s) feel extra, extra special. So if you’ve got the case of “the lovesickness,” then why not show love and affection a little more on the day of hearts? Anyway, despite the spending we do on Valentine’s Day, what else do we know about this most-awaited February holiday?
- The first valentine was written from prison in 1415.
When the Duke of Orléans named Charles was 21, he wrote a valentine message to his beloved Isabella while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Tragically, Charles was never able to see or hear his wife's reaction to the love letter because he was imprisoned for 25 years and she passed away before being reunited with him. In the poem, the French medieval royal addressed Isabella as his “Valentine.”
My very gentle Valentine,
Since for me you were born too soon,
And I for you was born too late.
God forgives him who has estranged
Me from you for the whole year.
I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine.
- Cupid, the magical Valentine’s day figure with a bow and arrow, was a Greek god.
The original Cupid was originally more like a hunky heartthrob called Eros. Eros was a handsome and sinister son of Aphrodite who had the power to make mortals fall in love. According to Richard Martin’s interview with Time Magazine, this playful cutie is a “cosmic force for bringing things together.” But that “It’s more like he causes you to fall in love, and that can lead to tragedy,”
- Esther Howland is the first mass producer of Valentine’s Day cards in America.
Esther Howland, aka the Mother of American Valentine, commercialized Valentine’s Day cards in the US. This idea all started after she graduated from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now known as Mount Holyoke College): when she saw a one-of-a-kind but pricey valentine card made in England and thought that she could make something similar for a cheaper price. The Howland cards — which feature a red letter H symbol on the back — then became an American phenomenon due to their affordable price and elegant designs.
- Thank you Richard Cadbury for the heart-shaped chocolate box.
In an effort to boost sales, Richard Cadbury who is the son of the Cadbury founder John Cadbury began packaging creamy chocolates in beautiful, decorated boxes. In 1868, Cadbury decided to market the first heart-shaped box of chocolates as the ultimate Valentine's Day gift.
- Thousands of “Dear Juliet” love letters addressed are sent to Verona, Italy.
The Juliet Club, which is made up of a group of volunteers known as the Juliet's Secretaries, carefully answers thousands of love letters from all over the world. And each year on February 14th, the secretaries choose the most deeply moving love letter to receive the "Cara Giulietta" (Dear Juliet) prize, which rewards the author with a visit to Juliet's house in Verona.
- Wearing your heart on your sleeve was actually a literal thing.
Since Emperor Claudius II at the time only approved of temporary unions (think of this mandate as "couples era" only because marriage was illegal), Roman men would choose the names of the women they would be partnered with for the upcoming year to honor the goddess Juno. After the drawing, the men would wear the name of their lady friend on their sleeves for the world to see throughout the Roman celebration.
- Pope Gelasius I declared Valentine’s Day in 496 A.D.
Towards the end of the fifth century, Pope Gelasius I proclaimed February 14 to be an official festival in honor of St. Valentine without any ties with love and romance. Then the Middle Ages came and the holiday turned into a romantic holiday, all thanks to lovebirds and Chaucer’s words which associated Valentine’s Day with romantic love and marriage.