10 fun facts about Valentine's Day

10 fun facts about Valentine's Day

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Okinawa

With chocolates and pre-packaged cartoon cards filling the shelves of local exchanges and commissaries, it’s hard to miss the signs that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Here are 10 fun facts about this Hallmark holiday of love.

1. The holiday can be loosely traced back to the Roman fertility festival, Lupercalia. This hedonistic ritual was performed over two days in mid-February and involved a lot of drunkenness and animal sacrifice. Lupercalia was eventually phased out once Pope Gelasius I combined it with the Feast of St. Valentine.

2. Most legends say that St. Valentine was a priest who performed clandestine Christian marriages in defiance of Roman Emperor Claudius II. However, there were actually three men named Valentine who were executed during Claudius’ reign.

3. The phrase “wearing your heart on your sleeve” originated from matchmaking ceremonies in the Middle Ages. Around Feb. 14, men and women would put their names in a jar and draw out their match. The names of their newfound beloved would be pinned to their sleeves for a week.

4. The letter “X” symbolizing a kiss also stems from the Middle Ages. Many were unable to read or write and could not sign their names. To sign their names, they would mark their signatures with an “x.” The signee would then kiss the “x” to demonstrate his sincerity.

5. Valentine’s Day generates almost $15 billion in revenue each year — roughly equal to the gross domestic product of Iceland.

6. Teachers receive the greatest number of Valentine’s Day cards, followed by children, wives, moms and significant others.

7. More than 8 billion candy conversation hearts are made annually. When laid side-by-side, they would stretch from Italy to Arizona and back approximately 20 times.

8. An average of 220,000 marriage proposals are made each year on Valentine’s Day — which is roughly the same population as Spokane, WA.

9. According to Guinness World Records, the longest-lasting marriage on record belonged to Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher, who were married for 86 years and 290 days. On the flip side, the shortest Hollywood marriage doesn’t belong to Britney Spears and Jason Alexander’s 55 hours of wedded bliss. In 1926, Rudolph Valentino and Jean Acker were married a whopping six hours before the regret sank in.

10. Each year, Verona, Italy receives more than 6,000 letters to Shakespeare’s tragic heroine, Juliet. Approximately 1,000 of the heartbroken notes arrive during the month of February. Every letter is kept and archived, with some actually receiving a response.

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