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The First Heart-Shaped Box Of Chocolates Was Introduced In 1861 (+26 More Facts)

Valentine’s Day began as St. Valentine’s Day, a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus.  February 14th first became associated with romantic love during the High Middle Ages as the tradition of courtly love was then flourishing.

  • During 18th century England, this day evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending Valentine cards.    
  • Historians believe Valentine’s Day actually began in Ancient Rome as a pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia, with the celebration dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
  • According to History.com, the day was celebrated with activities that included sacrificing animals and whipping women with animal skins until they bled, signifying their fertility.
  • In the 1300s, it officially became a holiday associated with love and romance.  The holiday was Christianized — no more animal sacrifices! — when the Roman Pope Gelasius officially declared the date of February 14 “St. Valentine’s Day.”
  • The day then became associated with love because many believed that birds started their mating season on February 14.
  • The first valentine was sent in the 15th century.  The oldest record of a valentine being sent, according to History.com, 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.”
  • Not until the 1840s did we get the first mass-produced valentines.  People started exchanging cards and handwritten letters to both lovers and friends during the 17th century, but it was in the 1840s that the first Valentine’s Day cards were mass-produced in the U.S., sold by Esther A. Howland.
  • Known as the “Mother of the American Valentine,” Howland is credited with commercializing Valentine’s Day cards in America, and she is remembered for her elaborate, crafty cards made with lace and ribbons.
  • It was 1913 when Hallmark Cards produced their first Valentine’s card!
  • The first heart-shaped box of chocolates was introduced in 1861.
  • today, more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sold each year. That’s 58 million pounds of chocolate!
  • Conversation hearts got their start as medical lozenges. Weirdly enough, the story of conversation hearts first began when a Boston pharmacist named Oliver Chase invented a machine that simplified the way medical lozenges — used for sore throats and other illnesses — could be made. The result was America’s first candy-making machine, because the pharmacist soon started shifting his focus from making lozenges to candy instead! Chase founded the New England Confectionery Company, or Necco, and the candy lozenges soon became what we know today as Necco wafers.
  • it wasn’t until 1866 that we first got sweet printed messages on conversation hearts.
  • More than 8 billion conversation hearts are manufactured each year.
  • Nearly 6 million couples get engaged on Valentine’s Day.
  • Sorry men, it looks like you’ll be spending twice as much as women this year on gifts. The average man spends $130 on Valentine’s Day, while women spend about $70.
  • February 14th is the second largest card giving day of the year, just after Christmas. This year, it’s expected that 1 billion cards will be exchanged around the world.
  • Teachers receive the most Valentine’s Day cards, followed by kids, mothers, wives, and girlfriends.
  • It’s estimated that the U.S. alone is going to spend $3.3 billion on flowers for loved ones this year.
  • The only other day that beats Valentine’s Day in floral sales is Mother’s Day.
  • ‘Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve’.  The term “wearing your heart on your sleeve” may have origins in picking a valentine. Smithsonian reports that during the Middle Ages, men would draw the names of women who they would be coupled with for the upcoming year while attending a Roman festival honoring Juno. After choosing, the men wore the names on their sleeves to show their bond during the festivities.
  • The idea of using a kiss to sign off on valentines also has a long history, according to the Washington Post. The use of “X” came to represent Christianity, or the cross, in the Middle Ages. During the same time, the symbol was used to sign off on documents. After marking with an X, the writer would often kiss the mark as a sign of their oath. As the gesture grew among kings and commoners to certify books, letters and paperwork, these records were described as having been “sealed with a kiss.”
  • Groundhog Day was originally observed on February 14.
  • The popular medieval folk belief that birds choose their mates on February 14 made doves a favorite symbol for Valentine cards. The dove was sacred to Venus and other love deities and was known for choosing a lifelong mate.
  • One Valentine’s Day, some zoos offer the opportunity for people buy a cockroach, name it after an ex, and then watch it be fed to an animal, such as a meerkat.
  • Every Valentine’s Day, the city of Verona, Italy receives thousands of letters addressed to Juliet, from the character from Romeo and Juliet. Volunteers from the Juliet club respond to each letter and awards the “Cara Giulietta” (“Dear Juliet”) prize to the author of the most romantic letter.
  • Anthophobia is the fear of flowers.

Sources:

National Day Calendar

Good Housekeeping

1800 Flowers

History

Fact Retriever