Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! It’s such a fun holiday for all ages to celebrate. From handmade Valentine cards to yummy chocolate treats to fun Valentine’s Day trivia, we’ll help you get ready for this special day.
What are some fun facts about Valentine’s Day?
Children between the ages of 6-10 exchange more than 650 million Valentine’s Day cards a year. Kids’ valentines provide the best excuse for breaking out the construction paper, scissors, lace and hearts. Everyone loves getting into the spirit during the first few weeks of February.
While you put together Valentine’s Day gifts with your kids, try out these Valentine trivia questions on the family!
The History of Your Favorite Valentine Candy
Did you know that candy conversation hearts have a shelf life of five years. The tradition of printing messages on candy hearts first started in 1866 as Necco wafers. One of the most interesting facts about this popular Valentine candy is that they started out as medical lozenges!
A Boston pharmacist invented a machine to make lozenges, but soon started making candy instead. Now more than 8 billion conversation hearts are made each year! In fact, Necco has to start making them soon after February 14th each year so that they have enough in time for the next Valentine’s Day.
While you might guess correctly that a box of chocolates is one of the most popular Valentine gifts for the official holiday, do you know how much we purchase annually? Each year, Americans purchase about 58 million pounds of chocolate for Valentine’s Day, and this includes approximately 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate.
You can impress your Valentine this year by making one of the top ten most popular chocolate desserts in the world. Incorporate some geography and history studies while you make one or more of the world-famous chocolate goodies.
For example, did you know that Gelato Cioccolato comes from Italy and is a popular frozen dessert? Brigadeiro is a truffle enjoyed in Brazil that includes just three ingredients: unsalted butter, cocoa powder, and condensed milk. Want to guess what the number one chocolate dessert in the world is? That’s right – it’s brownies, second only to chocolate chip cookies.
There are some fun recipes to try this year with your kids. For the cost of one valentine card, you can make 2 dozen or more Valentine Cookies instead! Or, since chocolate chip cookies are the number two most loved chocolate dessert in the world, try out a new Chocolate Chip Blondies recipe with your family this month.
It sure makes homeschooling a little sweeter. For all those homeschoolers needing a second breakfast, they’ll love you for making a loaf or two of Chocolate Chip Bread to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Here are some more little-known Valentine’s Day trivia questions to try out on the family:
- What the average amount that men and women spend on Valentine’s Day gifts each year? According to the National Retail Foundation, women spend about $106 while men spend $291.
- What are the colors of love? Red roses are known to symbolize love. King Charles II of Sweden learned of the language of flowers from Persia in the 17th century and introduced the tradition to Europe.
- When was the first box of chocolates made in a heart shape? That would be in 1861 by Richard Cadbury, the son of Cadbury founder John Cadbury.
- How many couples get engaged on Valentine’s Day each year? Six million people choose February 14th each year to pop the question.
- Lovebirds are actual birds! The Agapornis bird is native to Africa and is called a lovebird because they like to travel in pairs.
- While you may think that hearts are the main symbol of Valentines, there are actually five more. They are love birds, roses, Cupid, love knots, and Valentine’s Day cards (love notes).
- Don’t forget the pets! American pet owners spend $751.3 million on their furry friends on Valentine’s Day.
- Pennsylvania produces the most amount of chocolate of all the states.
- Did you known that there are four American towns named Valentine? Can you locate them all on a map?
- Which country celebrates Valentine’s Day as Friend Day? That would be Finland.
How did Valentine’s Day get its name?
The history of valentine spans multiple centuries. Pope Gelasius established Valentine’s Day in A.D. 500 in an attempt to appropriate the ancient pagan Roman fertility festival, Lupercalia, into Christianity. This festival was celebrated on February 15th.
Another origin of Valentine can be traced to Roman mythology in the 4th century B.C. when they adopted the Greek god of love as the cute little boy with the bow and arrow that we know today as Cupid. Cupid is the son of Venus, and Venus is the Roman god of love and beauty. By the Victorian era, Cupid had become linked to Valentine’s Day because of his ability as a matchmaker and creator of romantic love.
Saint Valentines in History
Throughout history, there have been approximately eight Saint Valentines. The two who most likely inspired Valentine’s Day are Valentine of Terni and Valentine of Rome.
History says that one of these men named Valentine actually defied the emperor’s ban on marriage for young soldiers and married couples in secret until he was sentenced to death. Another Valentine helped Christians escape prison in Rome and was killed for this.
When he was in prison, he sent the first “valentine” message. Both of these men were martyred by Emperor Claudius II on February 14th of different years. The Catholic Church then honored their martyrdom with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day after the 3rd century.
He is the patron saint of lovers, epileptics, and beekeepers. The Feast of Saint Valentine has been celebrated by the Catholic Church ever since.
So Valentine’s Day started as a remembrance of the martyrdom of two Christians.
It wasn’t until the middle ages, in about 1300, that Valentine’s Day officially became associated with love. Tradition in France and England said that birds started their mating season on February 14th, hence the new date for the holiday. In 1537, King Henry VIII declared Valentine’s Day as a public holiday in England.
What is the oldest known valentine?
Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages. But the oldest written valentine was sent in the 15th century. A French medieval duke was imprisoned in the Tower of London during the Battle of Agincourt and sent a love letter to his wife. You can see this first Valentine poem in the British Library in London.
By the 17th century, people were exchanging handwritten letters of love for Valentine’s Day. This continued through the Victorian times. People would decorate paper with romantic symbols including flowers and love knots, often including puzzles and lines of poetry.
The first commercial valentines were made in England at the end of the 18th century. These valentines were printed, engraved, or made from woodcuts and featured traditional symbols of love like flowers, hearts, cupids, and birds. Of course, they included lines of poetry as well.
The first American valentine was produced in 1834 by New York engraver Robert Elton. But the first mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards didn’t arrive until the 1840’s. Esther Howland is known as the Mother of the American Valentine as she commercialized the cards in the United States. Her cards were decked out with lace and ribbon and the tradition has continued.
Exchanging Valentine’s Cards
By the early 1900s, the popularity of giving Valentine’s cards had grown. In fact, Hallmark Cards produced their first Valentine’s card in 1913. Today the Greeting Card Association estimates that 145 million Valentine’s Day greeting cards are exchanged annually. Valentine’s Day is only second to Christmas as the top card-giving holiday of the year.
While many people still exchange cards on Valentine’s Day, gift-giving has become a popular tradition. Do you know the top ten Valentine’s gifts? They are:
- greeting cards
- soft toys
- electronic gadgets
- photo frames
- makeup kits
If you’re looking for ways to say “I love you” for longer than just a single day, check out the 14 Days of Love Challenge. Sometimes the simple things matter the most. Things like sending a handwritten letter is special! Or consider telling your children something you’ve noticed that they do very well.
Valentine’s Day provides a fun time to show how much you love and appreciate those special people in your life.
Sign up with AOP and never miss a sale, helpful tip, homeschool freebie or giveaway!
Founded in 1977, Alpha Omega Publications is a leading provider of PreK-12 Christian curriculum, educational resources, and services to homeschool families worldwide. AOP follows its mission every day by creating and providing quality Christian educational materials to thousands of students through curriculum, support services, and an accredited online academy. Visit Alpha Omega Publications online or call 800-622-3070 to learn more.