February 14th, Valentine —marks a day gorgeous flower bouquets, heart shaped balloons, tons of sweet treats are shared in absolute excess, also sentimental cards that are sure to make you blush, and social media memes saturate the internet. Physical billboards and stores do their parts to keep up promotions for deeply heartfelt services our lovers of the date require. But have you ever stopped to think about how this tradition of celebrating love on February 14 came to be? Africanian have got you covered, we’ve set up a list of interesting and fun Valentine’s Day facts to inform you and your loved ones on the history behind why this special day of love is celebrated.
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1. The color of flower given on Valentine’s Day holds meaning.
While a red rose has traditionally symbolized love, other colors like deep pink, purple or white — which symbolize happiness, royalty and sympathy respectively — may be given on the holiday too.
2. Nearly 6 million couples get engaged on Valentine’s Day.
I mean, what better day is there for a marriage proposal than a day literally dedicated to love and romance? Valentine’s Day is one of the popular days to pop the question, with as many as 6 million couples getting engaged on February 14. And according to the results of this survey, Valentine’s Day was voted the best day of the year to propose than any other day — and of those people who voted, 40% were men!
3. Lovebirds are actual birds.
While the term “lovebirds” has become a popular figure of speech, it’s also the common name for Agapornis birds. This bird is a type of parrot that is native to the continent of Africa and can be found throughout the eastern and southern regions. The animals typically travel in pairs, which is why many couples are referred to as lovebirds.
4. Nearly 250 million roses are grown in preparation for Valentine’s Day each year.
There is a science to ensuring that there are enough fresh roses to go around when it comes to February 14. In an effort to provide the flowers for the holiday, countries including Ecuador, Kenya, or Columbia ship the roses to the U.S., since they do not grow in the colder temperatures we experience in February.
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5. The first valentine was sent in the 15th century.
The oldest record of a valentine being sent, according to “History” channel, was a poem written by a French medieval duke named Charles to his wife in 1415. Charles penned this sweet note to his lover while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London at just 21 years old. One of the lines in the poem? “I am already sick of love, My very gentle Valentine.” Swoon!
6. St. Valentine wasn’t just one person.
You may already know that Valentine’s Day was named after its patron saint, St. Valentine — but there’s actually some confusion surrounding which St. Valentine the holiday technically honors. According to the “History” channel there are at least two men named Valentine that could’ve inspired the holiday, including one Valentine who was a priest in third century Rome. As the story goes, this Valentine defied Emperor Claudius II’s ban on marriage (he thought it distracted young soldiers), illegally marrying couples in the spirit of love until he was caught and sentenced to death.
Another legend suggests that Valentine was killed for attempting to help Christians escape prison in Rome, and that he actually sent the first “valentine” message himself while imprisoned, writing a letter signed “From your Valentine.”
7. In the 1300s, it officially became a holiday associated with love.
At the end of the 5th century, Roman Pope Gelasius officially declared the date of February 14 “St. Valentine’s Day.” It wasn’t until until the Middle Ages, though, that the holiday became associated with love and romance, a tradition that first started from the common belief in France and England that birds started their mating season on February 14.
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8. The tradition of giving Valentine’s Day flowers dates back to the 17th century.
Giving red roses may be an obvious romantic gesture today, but it wasn’t until the late 17th century that giving flowers became a popular custom. In fact, the practice can be traced back to when King Charles II of Sweden learned the “language of flowers” — which pairs different flowers with specific meanings — on a trip to Persia, and subsequently introduced the tradition to Europe. The act of giving flowers then became a popular trend during the Victorian Era — including on Valentine’s Day — with red roses symbolizing deep love.