Weird Things You Didn't Know About Valentine's Day
We've been offering a lot of practical advice about Valentine's Day lately.
Sure, it's nice to know how to save money on flowers, make affordable romantic dinners, and find good excuses not to buy your girlfriend jewelry. But what is the real story behind this expensive holiday? (See also: Wise Bread's Guide to Valentine's Day)
The Price of Love
- The average American will spend $119.67 on Valentine’s Day this year, up from $100.89 last year.
- Men spend almost twice as much on Valentine’s Day as women do. This year, the average man will spend $156, while the average woman will only spend $85.
- More than one-third of men would prefer not receiving a gift. Less than 20 percent of women feel the same way.
- Around this season, a dozen long-stemmed roses can cost an average of $75, or about 30% more than the normal price of $58.
- More than nine million pet owners are expected to buy gifts for their pets this Valentine's Day.
- 15 percent of U.S. women send themselves flowers on Valentine's Day.
The Birds and the Bees
- According to the condom company Durex, condom sales are highest around Valentine's Day, which are 20 percent to 30 percent higher than usual.
- More at-home pregnancy tests are sold in March than in any other month.
- Penicillin, a popular treatment for venereal diseases such as syphilis, was introduced to the world on February 14, 1929.
I Choo Choo Choose You
- Teachers receive the most valentines, followed by kids, mothers, wives and sweethearts.
- Over 50 percent of all Valentine's Day cards are purchased in the six days prior to the holiday.
- The oldest surviving valentine dates from 1415. It is a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife. At the time, the duke was being held in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.
- One billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making it the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.
- In a classic Simpsons episode, Lisa gives Ralph a valentine with a picture of a locomotive saying "I Choo Choo Choose You." According to BoingBoing, a fan has lovingly recreated that card which you can download here.
- Hallmark produced its first valentine in 1913.
- Today, Hallmark employs an 80-person research staff to analyze the sales pattern of previous valentines. That analysis, combined with more than 100,000 annual customer interviews, focus groups and in-store observations, will help create roughly 2,000 cards in Hallmark's core Valentine's Day line.
- While Hallmark offers thousands of different cards for Valentine's Day, one card was the top choice of customers in New York, Los Angeles, and virtually every other city in the country in 2006.
- This card, romantically named V330-5 by Hallmark, simply states: "Each time I see you, hold you, think of you, here's what I do ... I fall deeply, madly, happily in love with you. Happy Valentine's Day." (The card is the red one pictured below.)
Sharing Love Around the World
- In Japan, women are expected to give chocolate and other gifts to men on Valentine's Day. This tradition was started as a marketing campaign by Japanese chocolate companies. Men are not off the hook, unfortunately. They are expected to return the favor on March 14th, commonly known as White Day.
- BBC reports that Shiv Sena, a nationalist political party in India, has spoken out against Valentine's day, calling it "nothing but a Western onslaught on India's culture to attract youth for commercial purposes."
- The Ivory Coast is the world's largest producer of cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate. In 2001, the U.S. State Department reported child slavery on many cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast. A 2002 report from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture estimated there were 284,000 children working on cocoa farms in hazardous conditions.
- "I love you" in German is "Ich liebe dich."
History, Legends, and Rumors
- The roots of St. Valentine's Day can be traced back to the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia. On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year.
- In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. Today, to wear your heart on your sleeve means being transparent with your affections. (I'm having a tough time verifying this one, so please file this under "legends" instead of "history" for now.)
- Three different Saint Valentines have been mentioned by the martyrologies of the Roman Catholic Church.
- The Catholic Church struck St. Valentine’s Day from its official calendar in 1969.
- The phrase "Sweets for the sweet" is a line from Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1.
- Famous Valentine's Day weddings: The Captain and Tennille, Elton John and Renate Blauel, Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid, Jerry Garcia and Deborah Koons, and Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.
- Famous Valentine's Day birthdays: Thomas Malthus (1766), Frederick Douglass (1817), Jack Benny (1894), Jimmy Hoffa (1913), Hugh Downs (1921), Florence Henderson (1943), Carl Bernstein (1944), Tim Buckley (1946), Gregory Hines (1946), Jules Asner (1968), Rob Thomas (1972), Steve McNair (1973).
You Had Me at Hello
- University of Maryland has a team of academic experts dedicated to educating the media about Valentine's Day. “No matter what angle you’re covering, the University of Maryland has the Valentine’s Day expert for you,” says their official website.
- For every 120 single men who are in their 20s, there are 100 single women in the same age range.
- The story changes drastically when we look at people over 65. Beyond 65, there are 33 single men for every 100 single women of the same age range. I guess all that extra spending for Valentine’s day takes a toll.
- How do Americans celebrate Valentine's Day? U.S. Census Bureau has the answer:
|Date Night||44%||Other Gifts||17%|
- Don't want to send mixed signals with your bouquet? Make sure you check out the secret color code of roses:
I Love You
Job Well Done
Please Believe Me
I Am Wothy Of You
Keep a Secret
|Light Pink||Dark Pink||Peach -Pink||Peach||Orange|
|Lets Get Together
|Coral||Red & White||Black||Deep Burgundy||Red & Yellow Blend|
|Unconscious Beauty||Jovial and happy feelings|
* Note: In some cultures white and yellow flowers are used for funerals and considered bad luck. (Thanks Andrea and Yan!)
Sources: CNN Money, CNN Money, Wikipedia, History Channel, American Catholic, The Hoya, KHNL, Japanese Food @ About.com, Religion Facts, College Sex Talk, Taipei Times, Tree Hugger, ABC 7, Denver Federal Executive Board, Corsinet, and Dr. Spock.