Valentine’s Day History and Fun Facts

Valentine’s Day History and Fun Facts

Hello HSS readers,

I thought with Valentines Day coming up I'd share with you a bit of (somewhat useless) knowledge about the history of this celebration of all things love! 

Whoa, Saint Valentine was a pretty cool guy!

Saint Valentine

A short history… bear with me here.

In Rome around 269 AD, the Emperor Claudius II, used bloody, aggressive military tactics to conquer Europe. Most of the Roman soldiers wanted no part of the violence. Claudius, who historians believe may have been a little nuts, was convinced that the soldiers didn’t want to fight because they’d have to leave behind their wives and families so he decreed that soldiers could not get married or have families. Not cool.

Valentinus, a Christian priest, performed secret weddings for soldiers. When he was found out, Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned. While imprisoned he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. Sound like a good premise for a song! Before his execution on February 14, he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a final farewell and well, the rest is history.

Oh, and Valentinus was officially sainted by the Catholic church several hundred years later. 

So, why do we give Valentines?

Giving a valentine

The earliest recorded Valentine is a medieval French poem entitled ‘Farewell to Love’, (that's a Valentine?!) written by Charles, Duke of Orléans in 1415, to his wife. Charles wrote the poem while he was held in the Tower of London after being captured during the Hundred Years War. Whew! That's depressing.

Translated from French, it goes like this:

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.

Fun fact: There are approximately 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards exchanged each year in the US alone!

Roses are red…and white and yellow…

Roses are red

Roses are said to have become linked to Valentine’s Day during the 17th century, with tales of the rose being a symbol of Venus, the classical goddess of love. Oooh la la! Most people like to give red roses but over time, other colors have gained meaning.

  • Red: Romantic love, desire
  • White: Innocence and charm
  • Mixed red and white: Unity
  • Pink: Happiness
  • Lavender: Enchantment
  • Yellow: Friendship
  • Mixed colors: You’re everything to me (aww)

Fun fact: Approximately 110 million roses are produced for the Valentine’s Day holiday in the US. Men purchase 75% of these. And 15% of women purchase roses for themselves! Talk about some self-love!

I’m not complaining, but why all the chocolate?


Late in the 1800s, Richard Cadbury came up with a process of extracting cacao butter from whole beans to create a more tasty form of “drinking chocolate.” This process resulted in an excess of cacao butter, which was used to produce more varieties of what was then called “eating chocolate.” The best kind! 

In a stroke of marketing genius, these chocolates were packaged in heart-shaped boxes decorated with Cupids and rosebuds which Cadbury designed himself.

Fun fact: More than 58 million pounds of chocolate are sold during Valentine’s week. Think that’s a lot? Halloween blows that away with over 90 million pounds of chocolate!

The thing is, flowers end up in the garbage and chocolate ends up on your hips.

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