Fun Facts about Valentine’s Day …

I had so much fun with my last blog about Valentine’s customs and traditions that I thought it’d be enjoyable to look at some of the interesting facts surrounding the holiday.

The first one I found made me feel so much better about the times I’ve bought the cute little candy “conversation hearts” on sale after the holiday, saved them, and given them to my girls and now my grandchildren the following year. I figured they are already hard, so could they get any harder?  Well, I got my answer … they have a shelf life of five years.  Don’t know about you guys, but I do feel better about my frugality.

Then I found out something that made me feel not so good about my deception. They introduce about ten new candy “conversation heart” sayings each year. Recent additions have included “Yeah Right,” “Puppy Love,” and “Call Home.”

I love chocolate, but then who doesn’t?  Richard Cadbury produced the first box of Valentine chocolates in the late 1800’s.

Valentine’s Day was first introduced to Japan in 1936 and has become widely popular. However, because of a translation error made by a chocolate company, only women buy Valentine chocolates for their spouses, boyfriends, or friends. In fact, it is the only day of the year many single women will reveal their crush on a man by giving him chocolate. The men don’t return the favor until White Day, a type of “answer day” to Valentine’s Day, which is on March 14th.

The symbol of the ribbon, which often adorns modern-day Valentines, is rooted in the Middle Ages. When knights competed in tournaments, their sweethearts often gave them ribbons for good luck.

The rose has historically been a symbol of love, and on Valentine’s Day, nearly 189 million stems of roses are sold in the U.S.  The red rose was the flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. The most popular flower is a single red rose surrounded with baby’s breath.

Different colored roses have special meanings. Red means love, yellow means friendship, and pink means friendship or sweetheart. Red carnations mean admiration, white carnations mean pure love, red chrysanthemums mean love, forget-me-nots mean true love, primrose means young love, and larkspur means an open heart.

In 2010, 25% of adults bought flowers or plants as a Valentine’s gift. Of these, 60% were men and 40% were women. Men mainly bought flowers for romantic reasons, while women bought flowers for their mothers and friends as well as their sweethearts.

A True Love Knot, or Endless Knot of Love, was a very popular Valentine in England and the U.S. in the seventeenth century. As their name implies, these Valentines were drawn as a knot and could be read from any line and still make sense.

According to Welsh tradition, a child born on Valentine’s Day would have many lovers. A calf born on Valentine’s Day, however, would be of no use for breeding purposes. If hens were to hatch eggs on Valentine’s Day, they would all turn out rotten.

Some events that happened on Valentine’s Day, as well as famous people born include John Barrymore (1882), Jimmy Hoffa (1913), Jack Benny (1894), Carl Bernstein (1944), Renée Fleming (1959), and Florence Henderson (1934).

Groundhog Day was originally observed on February 14th.  On Valentine’s Day 2010, 39,897 people in Mexico City broke the record for the world’s largest group kiss. Oregon and Arizona were admitted to the Union (1859 and 1912, respectively), James Polk became the first president photographed while in office (1848),UPS (United Parcel Service) was formed (1919), the League of Women Voters was established (1920), Aretha Franklin recorded “Respect” (1967), Richard Nixon installed a secret taping system in the White House (1971), the U.S. performed a nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site (1976), and Voyager I took a picture of the entire solar system (1990).

Americans spend around $277 million on Valentine cards every year, second only to Christmas. Approximately one billion Valentine’s are sent each year around the world. Teachers receive the most Valentine’s cards, followed by children, mothers, and wives. Children between the ages of 6-10 exchange more than 650 million Valentine cards a year.

The first American Valentine was produced in 1834 by New York engraver Robert Elton, and Esther Howland (1828-1904) was the first person to create Valentines to sell in the United States. She first patented a lacy Valentine in 1844—and by 1860 her factory was selling thousands of valentines, earning over $100,000.

Each year 300,000 letters go through Loveland, Colorado, to get a special heart stamp cancellation for Valentine’s Day. By the way, my mother and father were married in Loveland in August of 1945. There is also a Valentine, Texas, but not for any romantic reason. The first train to arrive there happened to do so on February 14th… it’s just one of our Texas things.

A common symbol of Valentine’s Day is Cupid (“desire”), the Roman god of love. The son of Venus and Mars, he was originally depicted as a young man who would sharpen his arrows on a grindstone whetted with blood from an infant, though now he is commonly presented as a pudgy baby. This transformation occurred during the Victorian era when business owners wanted to promote Valentine’s Day as more suitable for women and children.

Valentine Writers” were booklets written in 1823 by Peter Quizumall to help those who couldn’t think up Valentine verses on their own.

Picking out my favorite piece of information was easy.  If anyone wants to know if I’ve given them this year’s box of conversation hearts or one I picked up on sale the year before, they’ll have to read each one and compare them to a newly purchased box.  Okay, if they have “Right on Man”, “Flower Power”, “Peace” or “Make Love, Not War” then I’d strongly suggest you not eat them.

May each of you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  I will give away a copy of fellow filly, Linda Broday’s and my newest anthology Be My Texas Valentine to one lucky commenter today.

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A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at phylissmiranda.com

27 thoughts on “Fun Facts about Valentine’s Day …”

  1. I love chocolate too – give me that over flowers any day! I laughed at your comment on the love heart sayings – I’d love to see some ‘make love not war’ ones but i don’t think I’d want to eat them!

    pageturner345@gmail.com

  2. I’m a chocolate girl myself. Who whould have thought those little candy hearts would last up to five years. I used to love those when I was a little girl. Would love to read your book. I can’t believe that Valentines day is just a couple of weeks away. Where did Jan. go to.

  3. Interesting! Thanks for sharing all if those facts!! I’ve never heard of White day or that men aren’t supposed to give women chocolates on Valentine’s day.

    I love red roses. I will buy them for myself. My husband gave me a dozen when each of my 4 children were born.

    I saw pretty, long stem, candle roses last year. I bought a bouquet that now lasts forever.

  4. Enjoyed reading those interest facts about Valentine’s Day. I’m a chocolate lover, too. Even a Hershey’s bar makes me happy 🙂

    No need to include me in the book drawing today as I am already a lucky winner of this book thanks to Phyliss! Thank you!

  5. Fun post, Phyliss! I’ve enjoyed learning all these facts about Valentine’s Day.

    Chocolate is always good, but I’ll never forget the first Valentine’s Day when flowers arrived for me from my Dad along with my Mom’s bouquet. I felt so grown up. I was on cloud nine that day.

    –Kirsten

  6. What fun and interesting facts about Valentine’s Day. I like chocolate but I love those little candy “conversation hearts”. You can say so much with them.

    e.balinski(at)att(dot)net

  7. Valentine’s Day….that IS coming isn’t it?
    We’ve had the mildest winter ever here in Nebraska and we’re clocking out of January with a forecast high of 51 degrees.
    We’ve still got to get through February and March but we dodged the bitter cold bullets of January (well, most of them)
    And yes I AM talking about the weather.
    Sorry.
    But Valentine’s Day traditions are nice, too. 😀

  8. Phyliss, what a bunch of neat Valentine facts. It’s a good thing to know about the conversation hearts. I do love the taste of those little candies but I really prefer chocolates. Something gooey and sweet that melts in my mouth and slides slowly down my throat. Last year each of my kids gave me boxes of chocolates so I was set for quite a while. I only allowed myself to eat one or two a day.

    Wishing you lots and lots of success with your work in progress. Can’t wait for it to be available for purchase. My Kindle is waiting.

  9. Thanks for the fun trivia, Phyliss. You have to wonder what happens to those little hearts after five years. Do they turn to stone? Fall apart?
    It was on the news last year that some parents had complained to the company about the text on them–some of the examples were worse than the ones you gave us here. It would be interesting to know if they’ve cleaned up their language this year.

  10. What great facts about Valentine’s Day.. I love the cinnimon candy hearts.. WIsh they had them out all year long..
    Thanks for sharing with us Phyllis..

  11. I love those old valentine cards the vintage one are so sweet,,the best Valentines gift I ever got was one year our finaces were low so we agreed no gifts or cards,I baked him a cake an he stopped on the side of the road an picked me a bouquet of wildflowers,he hid it behind his back so,so sweet,,,you dont have to “buy”special memories

  12. Enjoyed reading about the Valentine’s facts… always like to find out little things and share them… so today I will probably go around saying… did you know!?! 😀

  13. I love anything chocolate and or heart related. Thanks for all the factoids I can never know to many bits of this fun holdiday.

  14. Hi Alison. Thanks for dropping by. I’m like you, give me chocolates and I’m not sure I could eat a heart about making love not war either!

    And, good morning Quilt Lady. I’m like you, where did January go? I typically clean up my office and get ready for a new year of writing, but now I’m already a month behind. Of course, having our Christmas book come out in October and the Valentine’s anthology on January 1st plus doing the promo, etc. did take up a lot of my time. I think we all liked the conversation hearts and they sure brought back memories to me. I just thought that was the coolest piece of information I’d seen in a while.

    Ladies, have a fantastic Tuesday. Big hugs, Phyliss

  15. HI Phyliss, I love Valentine’s Day. I love candy hearts, CHOCOLATE hearts, and trivia tidbit: I learned to ski in Loveland Colorado. Thanks for the great post and the great memories I just had! oxox

  16. Here in Finland Valetine’s Day has a slightly different meaning:
    “In Finland Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä which translates into “Friend’s day”. As the name indicates, this day is more about remembering all your friends, not only your loved ones.” -Wikipedia

  17. Laurie, good morning. I love red roses, too. Congrats on four children. I haven’t seen the candle roses, so gotta check ‘um out for sure.

    Hi Lori, I’m with you at times any chocolate will do. When we go to Disney World (with our friends of nearly 40 years, so no kid excuses … purely adult), we go to Downtown Disney and visit the Ghirardelli Chocolate store. They give out free chocolates, so we come in one door get a sample, out the other and before long, we’re back for more. LOL I always buy a bag or two to bring home. Gotta have that chocolate. Hugs, P

  18. Kirsten, what great memories, and what a thoughtful dad! Thanks for sharing. Apple Bloosom, thanks for stopping by and you’re in on the drawing for leaving a comment. Joanne, thanks for visiting today. I think the major of us like the conversation hearts although they aren’t chocolate. My very, very favorite are chocolate covered marshmellow hearts! Yummy. Hugs, P

  19. I usually buy myself chocolate so i would welcome someone else buying me flowers. My favorites are sweet peas but when I look at them, they don’t shout Love like a bright red rose does.
    The book sounds really good.
    Thanks for the comments and information about Valentine’s Day

  20. Love those candy hearts! How can you keep them around for a whole year without eating them up? I’ll admit, if I come across any leftover I can’t resist, and now I’ll rest assured they’re good for 5 years at least. Too funny! Cute post; thanks for sharing some great info.

  21. I remember anticipating and fearing Valentine’s Day in school. Would I get any Valentine’s or would I be the one left out this year? Those were terrifying times!

    Thanks for all the fun facts, Phyliss!

  22. Love Valentine’s Day! Always learn something new from you and enjoy all the fun facts. I guess I will have to let my husband buy as many of the little hearts as he wants from now on. Sure he will get rid of them before they reach the end of their shelf life!

  23. Yep, Mary, it’s on its way. We have had really beautiful weather in the Texas Panhandle. Very warm; however, February can be our coldest. It’s been so warm that the cattle feed lots are making their existence known, if you get my “whiff”!

    Hi Linda, I think we all have Kindles waiting. I know I’m going to have to buy one for your three books and I’m eager to get mine edited for the millionth time and out of here, so I can go on with another project.

    Elizabeth, I didn’t know about the complaint against the conversation hearts, but I can only imagine after listening to my teenage grandkids! You do know that we can no longer say we were born and reared in Texas … we were raised just like wheat and cattle. Times do change. My research didn’t tell me what happens at the end of five years, but I just imagine, we don’t want to know! LOL You all have a great evening. Hugs, P

  24. Hi Kathleen, I’d forgotten about the cinnamon hearts. They are good, aren’t they.

    Vickie, I’m like you about the vintage cards. There’s something innocent and sweet about them. And, the story you told about picking wildflowers is so precious. Brings tears to my eyes. Just so sweet. Gives me an idea for something in a book I’m working on. Thanks for planting the seed.

    Tanya, how neat that you learned to ski in Loveland. I don’t ski, but an envious that others can. I can’t swim either. Ouch, I’m not very sports oriented, am I? Hugs to all, P

  25. Minna, thanks for the Finland information. I was surprised to find so many customs and history, but it was fun to divide it up into two blogs. And, Estelle, so you’re a flower girl. I love flowers and they don’t widen my backsides as much as chocolates. I’m still thinking about those marshmellow Russell Stover hearts and might have to make a trip to Walgreen’s this evening for a treat. Now, Nat, don’t you feel better about feeding your boys hearts from the year before, but with boys, they probably don’t last all that long. Hope you have a great class tonight.

    Joye, thanks for stopping by today. Tracy, I was probably more like you about the fears of not getting a valentine, especially from the boy I liked. They are now called “crushes” for those who don’t know! LOL

    Connie, I think the conversation heart information was the best of the day because now we all feel so much better keeping them around and enjoying them long after Valentine’s Day.

    Hope all of you all have a great evening, Hugs, P

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