Valentine's Day Facts

It's that time of year again – and whether you think it's a wonderful day or a stupid idea, we're sure you're wondering to yourself where it all began, where the Valentine's traditions came from and what it all means!

The story behind St Valentine

There are several stories about the namesake of the day which is celebrated every year. One popular theory is that the man behind the story was a priest in Rome in the year 3 AD.

St Valentine was thrown in jail in the name of love – following the ban on marriage by Emperor Claudius II (he thought married men were bad soldiers) he arranged weddings in secret, believing the ban to be unfair.

Claudius found out about St Valentine's secret marriages, threw him in jail and sentenced him to death.

While he was in jail he fell in love with the jailer's daughter, and on the day he was to be executed (February 14), he left a letter to her signed “from your Valentine”.

Valentine's Day stems from a very old celebration

In fact, Valentine's Day has roots in the Roman festival of Lupercalia.

This annual pagan celebration took place on February 15 but circa 496, Pope Gelasius I declared the festival be celebrated on February 14 as a Christian feast day.

Here are some unusual and interesting facts about Valentine's Day:

1. On Valentine's Day, 46 per cent of the flowers sent are roses.

2. Each year approximately one billion Valentine cards are sent around the world.

3. In the US and UK, a popular tradition for girls was to decipher what type of man they would go on to marry based on the first bird they saw on Valentine's Day.

A blackbird meant they would marry a clergyman, a robin for a sailor, a goldfinch for a rich man, a sparrow meant a farmer, a bluebird for a happy man, a cross bill for an argumentative man and a dove for a good man. If they saw a woodpecker first on Valentine's Day, it was thought they wouldn't marry anyone at all!

4. St Valentine is also the patron saint of epilepsy, which he is said to have suffered. In addition to this he is the patron saint of plague, greetings, travellers, young people and bee keepers.

5. Valentine's Day was introduced in Japan in 1936. But an error in translation by a chocolate company meant only women buy the ones they love, not men. This misunderstanding of the real meaning of Valentine's Day also took hold in Korea. Instead, White Day exists in Japan as a form of 'answer day' for men to respond to their Valentines, on March 14.

6. In Mexico February 14 is regarded as a day of mourning.

7. The majority of the traditions associated with Valentine's Day that we know of now originated in the UK and were well established here long before the US picked up on them by 1850.

8. The first printed Valentine's Day cards were produced in the 1700s. By the 19th century mass production of printed cards was underway in factories.

9. Around £1.5 billion is spent in the UK each year on Valentine's Day cards and gifts.

10. In some parts of the Middle East Valentine's Day has been banned, and people can be arrested for celebrating it.

11. Richard Cadbury (as in the Cadbury's we all know and love) introduced the very first box of Valentine's Day chocolates to the market in 1868.

12. The Italian city of Verona reportedly receives around 1,000 letters every Valentine's Day that are addressed to Juliet. The city was home to Shakespeare's fictional lovers Romeo and Juliet.

13. In the Middle Ages, a valentine was decided by drawing a name from a bowl. The name was then pinned to their sleeve, which is where it is thought the phrase “to wear your heart on your sleeve” comes from.

14. Teachers receive the most Valentine's cards, followed by children, then mothers and wives. Around three per cent of pet owners treat their pets to a gift on February 14.

15. Londoners spend around £86 each on February 14, more than anywhere else in the UK.

16. In 1835, 60,000 Valentine cards were posted in Britain.

17. More than 5,000 marriage proposals have been made on the London Eye.

18. In Saudi Arabia, giving gifts such as flowers, chocolates or other presents is forbidden on February 14 and people cannot wear red clothing. Selling red items on this day is also not allowed.

We've got plenty of gifts just perfect for your valentine. Why not have a look at our full selection of Personalised Valentine's Day Gifts?