Fun Facts About Valentine’s Day, Plus Seven Romantic Ways to Spend It


In the United States, Valentine’s Day is synonymous with big heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, red roses and, of course, romance. But have you every wondered what Valentine’s Day is REALLY all about?

About 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women.

The holiday is actually shrouded in mystery, as there are at least three different Saint Valentine’s or Saint Valentinus, any one of whom could have become the inspiration for Valentine’s Day.

One legend has it that Valentine was a priest during third century Rome. The Emperor, Claudius II, outlawed marriage for young men, as he believed that single men made better soldiers. Valentine felt this ruling was unjust, so he continued to perform marriage ceremonies for young couples secretly. When the Emperor found out what Valentine was doing, he was put to death.

Another legend claims that Valentine was in prison, where he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter. He wrote a love letter to the girl before his death, signed it “From your Valentine” … and the rest is history.

As for why Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14, it may be to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial. In France and England, meanwhile, February 14 was said to be the beginning of birds’ mating season, which further tied romance to the date.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated not only in the United States, but also in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia.

In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day was celebrated widely by the middle of the 18th century, and friends and lovers would exchange small gifts and notes. It’s thought that Americans began celebrating the holiday in the early 1700s, and the first mass-produced valentines were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland, who is affectionately known as the “Mother of the Valentine.”

Today, about 1 billion valentine cards are sent each year, according to the Greeting Card Association, making it second only to Christmas as one of the largest card-selling holidays in the United States.

More Fun Valentine’s Day Facts

If you like to send greeting cards and have a date night in honor of Valentine’s day, you are not alone. These two activities top the list of favorite ways to celebrate the holiday in the United States, with 65 percent and 44 percent of households taking part in these activities, respectively, according to Hallmark and the Retail Industry Leaders Association. In all, the top ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day are:

  • Greeting cards, 65%
  • Date night, 44%
  • Candy, 38%
  • Flowers, 32%
  • Gift cards, 29%
  • Plush, 21%
  • Other gifts 17%
  • Perfume/Cologne 12%
  • Jewelry, 11%

Seven Fun and Romantic Ways to Spend Valentine’s Day

A Consumer Reports poll found about 50 percent of people with partners plan to spend less money on Valentine’s Day this year. But that doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the romance Here are some fun ways to spend Valentine’s Day that will fit into just about every budget.

  1. Romance movie night. Check out a handful of sappy love stories from the video store, then cuddle up to your sweetie on the couch.
  1. Go to a museum or the zoo. Spend some quality time with your valentine while soaking up some history or wildlife.
  1. Create a top-10 list why you love your partner. You can either read it to him or her over a glass of champagne, or hide the 10 reasons around your house and let your partner discover them on their own.
  1. Have an “All-About-Each-Other” day. Turn off the TV and your cell phones, call a babysitter if necessary, then devote the day to making each other happy. This could include breakfast in bed, a sensual massage, drawing a bath, or cooking a special meal together.
  1. Crafts and cookies. If you have children, include them in the celebration by making homemade valentines and cookies.
  1. Explore a nearby city. Hop in the car and take a long drive to a neighboring city that interests you. For extra romance, pack a picnic lunch with bread, cheese, fruit and wine.
  1. Go out to a coffee shop. Indulge in two giant coffees or teas, then take some time to sit and chat, just the two of you.

Sources Valentine’s Day

U.S. Census Bureau Press Release, Valentine’s Day