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Valentine's Day: celebrating love, part 4 of 4, trivia

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Valentine’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays all over the world. That makes it rich fodder for a lot of interesting trivia. What are some of these fun facts?

The first expression of love was sent by the man for whom the holiday is named. Jailed and waiting for execution, a Roman priest named Valentine sent a note to his secret love, the jailer’s daughter. He signed it, “From your Valentine.”

Valentine’s greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages. Then, especially in England and France, it was common belief February 14th began birds’ mating season. That bolstered the supposition that date should be associated with romance. Furthermore, a universal thought was your spouse would be the first unmarried person of the opposite sex you met on Valentine’s Day.

After 1400, written valentines appeared. The oldest known sample is a 1415 poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife. Captured at the Battle of Agincourt, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Still in existence today, it’s part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.

In 1537, England’s King Henry VIII, for the first time, declared February 14th as the official holiday of St. Valentine’s Day.

The first time Americans began exchanging hand-made valentines was in the early 1700s. The first mass-produced ones to sell were done in 1840 by Esther A. Howland. She is known as the “Mother of the Valentine.”

Early valentines were elaborate. They were trimmed with genuine lace, beautiful ribbons, and colorful pictures.

Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. Estimates say one billion are sent each year. (For Christmas, it’s approximately 2.6 billion.)

Greeting cards on Valentine’s Day rank highest (51%) as the most purchased items by celebrants. Candy is second at 48.7%, and flowers are 37.3%. The fourth (and last) is 37% for an evening out. The Greeting Card Association says women buy about 85% of all valentines.

On average, men spend almost twice as much as women on Valentine’s Day gifts. Projections reveal males will spend $173.01 compared to females’ outlays of $96.86.

2014 projections expect celebrants will spend $1.6 billion candy, $1.9 billion on flowers and $4.4 billion on jewelry.

Knowing the interesting trivia surrounding any holiday makes it more fun. Use these tid-bits to make yourself an attention-grabbing fountain of fascination.

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