20 Facts about Valentine’s Day that will surprise you!
2/7/2019 12:00:00 AM

20 Facts about Valentine’s Day that will surprise you!

Valentine’s Day might be considered one of the more controversial holidays, especially with the growth of anti-valentine’s day celebrations, but it is still one of the biggest calendar events of the year.

Love it or hate it, an annual tribute to all things love seems like a good thing overall, and, as the saying goes, “love is all you need”.  Obviously the predominate reasons for Valentine’s distaste stem from the pressure it puts on partners to step up, the sadness it conveys to singles and the over commercialisation of the holiday itself.  Let’s face it though, Valentine’s Day is hardly the only holiday of the year to have been bounced upon by retailers as an opportunity to boost sales.  Here in the TELLAL office everyone is approaching the day in different ways, some of us wish it was a national holiday and can’t wait to share a special dinner with our loved ones and others are plotting a fun night out with friends with no love hearts in sight.   So instead of helping you find the best ways to celebrate or anti-celebrate the occasion, we thought we would dig up some brilliant facts about Valentine’s Day that will surprise you and so you can share in a more interesting conversation about the yearly influx of candy and flowers.

Money, Money, Money

Valentine’s Day is the second biggest holiday of the year, behind Christmas.Over 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged around the world every year.

Do you wear your heart on your sleeve?

Well it turns out this saying actually has some history behind it.  Apparently in the Middle Ages young men and women drew names to see who their valentine would be.  They then pinned these names to their sleeves for one week for everyone to see.

Love yourself.

In the USA 15% of women send flowers to themselves every Valentine’s Day.  So if you are worried you might not be due any gifts this year, you will be in good company if you decide to treat yourself.

Ironic history.

Serial womaniser and perpetual wife executioner Henry VIII actually made Valentine’s Day an official holiday every year. Perhaps he thought it would increase his chances of finding a wife that he didn’t want to send to the gallows?

A bird in the hand?

According to some cultures, if a bird flies over your head on Valentine’s Day it is an omen for the type of man you will marry.  Sparrows equal poor but loving husbands, goldfinches will bring you a rich partner and a robin means you will set your sights on a sailor.  Time to head to the nature park for the day?

Gender equality?

Not on Valentine’s Day, statistically men spend double what women do on Valentine’s Day gifts.  73% of all the flowers bought on this day are bought by men.  However in Japan, it is traditional for women to buy the gifts on this day and the men will reciprocate a month later on ‘White Day’, March 14th.

Girl Power.

Despite the aforementioned male dominance of purchasing Valentine’s gifts, it was actually a woman who became the first manufacturer of Valentines.  Esther Howland was inspired by the sweet greeting cards in England and so introduced a more romantic version to the US market in the 1850s.  It worked as well; she earned $100,000 every year during that decade, about $3 million today.

Secret Admirer.

Sending Valentine’s without signing your name stems from Victorian times when it was considered very bad luck to sign your Valentine’s Day card.

So Cheeeeeeessssy.

220,000 is the average number of wedding proposals on Valentine’s Day every year.  A lack of imagination springs to mind…..

No forward planning required.

Given how many Valentine’s Day cards are purchased by men, it might not come as a crushing surprise that over 50% of all cards are only purchased in the six days immediately prior to the holiday.

Not just for lovers.

In Finland there is a much more inclusive attitude to Valentine’s Day.  There, they celebrate ‘Ystävänpäivä’ which translates to ‘Friend’s Day’ and everyone gets together to honour their pals.

They are the experts after all.

The first box of Valentine’s Day chocolates was produced in 1868 by, yes you guessed it, Richard Cadbury of Cadbury Egg and Cadbury chocolates fame.

A Strepsil by any other name…

Candy hearts were actually invented by a Boston Pharmacist who was trying to find more efficient ways to make throat lozenges.

Looking for love?

In medieval times it was believed that if a girl ate bizarre food on Valentine’s Day, she would dream of her future spouse.  Chocolate omelette anyone?

Scientifically proven (sort of).

Ever found yourself reaching for the galaxy jumbo box after a break up?  Well it turns out people have been doing that for centuries. In fact, physicians of the 1800s would actually prescribe chocolate to patients as a calming medicinal cure for those pining after a lost love.

X marks the spot.

The evolution of the X as a symbol for a kiss didn’t occur until prior to the 15th  Those who couldn’t write would sign their name with an X and they would kiss the mark to show sincerity in front of a witness. This is how we ended up with XXXX at the end of letters.  The XOXO is entirely blamed on Gossip Girl.

Man’s best friend?

It turns out that for most of us, the object of our affection might not be human.  One in five people will actually give Valentine’s Day gifts to their pets!  In the UK alone, pet-lovers spent over AED128 million on Valentine’s gifts for their furry friends in 2017.

Love not war.

The most widely accepted theory for the origination of Valentine’s Day belongs to a wicked Emperor and a loving priest. According to legend, Roman Emperor Claudius II (super evil) decreed that his soldiers couldn’t wed, as it would distract them from the prowess needed in battle.  St Valentine defied the Emperor’s orders and continued to perform weddings for those who wanted them in secret.  He was eventually discovered and executed on February 14th, but not before winning the heart of his jailor’s daughter Julia, to whom he wrote a letter and signed it, ‘from your Valentine’ – ringing any bells?  After he died, she planted an almond tree on his grave which is how the almond tree came to be a symbol of friendship and love.

Wardrobe choices.

Everyone knows that red is the colour of love and why we might see quite a few colours donning their best rouge hue on February 14th, but did you know that wearing lace is also considered appropriate on Valentine’s Day. The word itself comes from the Latin lacques which means to ‘ensnare’ or ‘capture’ so wearing lace is meant to help you capture the heart of a loved one.  This also might explain why lace is such a popular choice for wedding dresses.


The most interesting fact that we discovered is that the group to receive the most Valentine’s overall is actually teachers!  (We’re sure this is entirely voluntary and not because the teachers set the activities of course!)  But it is nice to see so many people appreciate the hard work and inspiring joy teachers bring to their students.  So if you want to make sure you always feel loved on Valentine’s Day, perhaps a role in education is just what you need…


Deborah Hennigan

Head of QA, Startups and Licensing

In her role at TELLAL, Deborah responsibilities include the up-skilling of in-service teachers

and leaders on a needs basis, managing and quality assuring the central training calendar,

and coordinating GEMS’ subject networks.


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