The most beloved yet simultaneously hated holiday of all is here – Valentine’s Day. Whether you’ve got a hot date lined up or you’re refusing to leave the house in protest, Valentine’s Day is a holiday steeped in interesting (and often very odd) history.
Let’s learn a little bit about the holiday we all love to hate and the Valentine’s Day sweets we all hate to love.
1. Medieval Girls Would Purposefully Eat Bizarre Foods On Valentine’s Day
During Medieval times, they believed that if a young woman ate strange foods on Valentine’s Day, she’d dream of her future husband. In a time where “normal” meals were delicacies such as a boar’s head sewed onto a turkey’s body, these weird meals were well, extra weird.
The roasted hedgehog was just one of the bizarre foods these young girls would enjoy in hopes of seeing visions of their future Valentine.
2. In The U.S. Alone, 189 Million Stems Of Roses Are Given On Valentine’s Day
Venus, the Roman goddess of love, was partial to red roses. So to pay homage, the rose was declared the official flower of Valentine’s Day. To this day, red roses are still the most popular flower given on February 14th – in fact, an average of 189 million stems of roses are sold in the U.S. alone on Valentine’s Day.
3. It Was Considered Bad Luck To Sign A Valentine’s Day Card During Victorian Times
It was found to be terrible luck to sign your name on a Valentine’s card. This superstition must have proven very confusing for some and very convenient for certain secret admirers of the Victorian era.
4. Women Give Men Chocolates On Valentine’s Day In Japan
On February 14th, it’s a tradition for Japanese women to give chocolates to their male partners, not the other way around. Don’t worry, men don’t get off that easily. Japanese men are expected to return the favor of chocolates and gifts during “White Day” on March 14th.
5. Richard Cadbury Created The First Box Of Valentine’s Day Chocolates
Mr. Cadbury, known and loved for his Cadbury Creme Eggs, invented the first box of Valentine themed chocolates in the 1880s. At that time in England, the popular sweet was “drinking chocolates." Cadbury caught on to the upcoming trend of “eating chocolates” and designed his very own heart-shaped box for Valentine’s Day.
6. An ‘X’ Was Considered An Actual Kiss In Medieval Times
If you’re familiar with the term “X’s and O’s”, then you know that they also represent kisses and hugs. This alternate meaning of ‘X’ comes from medieval times when commoners couldn’t write their name.
When signing a Valentine, instead of writing their name, they would write an ‘X’ and kiss the ‘X’ for sincerity. That gesture has translated into ‘X’ literally meaning a kiss.
7. During Middle Ages Love Was Literally The Luck Of The Draw
In the Middle Ages, young men and women would draw names on the morning of Valentine’s Day. The name they drew was their potential sweetheart for the holiday, and they would pin that name to their sleeve to honor that man or woman. This practice is where the expression “wearing your heart on your sleeve” is from.
8. In South Korea, The 14th Of Every Month Is A Romantic Holiday
They don’t all celebrate the same things (Black Day, on April 14th, commemorates all the single people of the world by eating black noodles) but each day celebrates love and relationships in some way.
The holidays are – Candle Day, Valentine’s Day, White Day, Black Day, Rose Day, Kiss Day, Silver Day, Green Day (no joke), Music Day, Wine Day, Movie Day, and Hug Day. That’s a lot of cards.
9. Forget Chocolate And Eat Basil, Lavender, And Rosemary Instead
There are particular herbs associated with Valentine’s Day – basil, lavender, and rosemary. Basil symbolized fertility and was often worn by single women to signify that they were on the prowl. The scent of lavender was said to be an aphrodisiac and was commonly eaten or worn on February 14th while rosemary has long been a symbol of love.
10. Conversation Hearts Were Originally Supposed To Be Throat Lozenges
Oliver Chase was a Boston pharmacist who wanted to jump on the trendy lozenge scene in 1847. In his efforts to make a machine that could quickly make lozenges, he instead discovered the first way to press candy.
Chase then founded the candy company NECCO, which produced the first conversation candies. Slightly larger, these candies started out with long, witty phrases like, “HOW LONG SHALL I HAVE TO WAIT? PLEASE BE CONSIDERATE”.