It Hasn't Always Been Chocolates and Roses—The History of Valentine's Day

Plus, fun V-Day facts!

Across the United States and in other places around the world, Valentine’s Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14. Valentine’s Day is often celebrated with flowers, chocolates and gifts exchanged between loved ones, as it's a time that people express their love to their partners, family, or their Galentines. But have you ever wondered about Valentine's Day's history? We're helping to break it down for you—and sharing Valentine's Day facts as well.

Related: 365 Reasons Why I Love You—Ideas for a Sentimental Note To Share Every Day of the Year

Valentine's Day History

No one has pinpointed the exact origin of the holiday, but one good place to start is ancient Rome. One theory about the origins of Valentine’s Day is that it is timed to coincide with the ancient Roman festival Lupercalia, which was celebrated from February 13-15. The festival was held in mid-February celebrating the coming of spring. According to, the day was celebrated with Roman priests sacrificing a goat and dog before dividing the goat’s hides into strips and whipping women with animal skins until they bled, signifying their fertility. Women would then be paired with randomly selected bachelors for the following year.

Related: 50 Valentine's Day Gifts for Him

Where did the name “Valentine” Come From? 

Ancient Romans may also be responsible for naming “Valentine’s Day.” Emperor Claudius II executed two men—both named Valentine—on Feb. 14 of different years. Their death was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine's Day.

At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day, as Lupercalia was deemed “un-Christian.” It came to be recognized and celebrated as a day of romance and fertility. It was not until much later, however, that the day became associated with love.

Related: These 54 Valentine's Day Gifts for Kids Will Make 'Em Go Heart-Eyed

The First Valentine Was Written From Prison

The history behind the oldest-known valentine involves imprisonment in a medieval tower. Charles, Duke of Orleans wrote a love letter to his second wife at the age of 21, while captured at the Battle of Agincourt.

Where Did Valentine's Day Cards Come From?

In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers to exchange small tokens of affection, including handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters.

Related: Let's Go, Girls—Enjoy These 50 Epic Ways to Celebrate Galentine's Day

In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine” made classic creations with lace, ribbon and colorful pictures. In 1913, Hallmark Cards from Kansas City, Mo., began mass-producing valentines and Valentine's Day has not been the same since.

Following Christmas, Valentine’s Day is the second-largest card-giving holiday, with an estimated 145 million cards sent each year, according to the Greeting Card Association.

Where is Valentine’s Day Celebrated?

The day is extremely popular in the United States as well as in Britain, Canada, and Australia. In the Philippines, February 14th is the most common wedding anniversary.

Valentine's Day Fun Facts

  1. According to Hallmark, approximately 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged industry-wide.

  2. "Galentine's Day" a day celebrating female friendships, was created by Leslie (played by Amy Poehler) in a 2010 episode of Parks and Recreation.

  3. Richard Cadbury introduced the first box of Valentine's Day chocolates in 1868, reports.

  4. Teachers receive the most Valentine’s Day cards, followed by kids, mothers, wives and girlfriends, according to 1-800-Flowers.

  5. Sorry guys, 1-800-Flowers reports men spend twice as much as women on gifts. The average man spends $130 on Valentine’s Day, while women spend about $70.

  6. In 2019, the only other day that beat Valentine’s Day in floral sales was Mother’s Day.

  7. Based on National Retail Federation statistics, gifts of experience such as tickets to an event or a trip to a spa are wanted by 40 percent of people receiving gifts.

  8. According to retail statistics, pet owners will give their furry friends a gift or treat on the holiday.

  9. In 2019, 58 pounds of chocolate were purchased during the week of Valentine’s Day, reported Groovy Candies.

  10. The average couple spends about $100 per-couple on Valentine's Day dinner, according to WalletHub.

  11. Think before you buy! In 2019 it was reported that there were $9.5 billion spent on unwanted gifts.

  12. If you're planning on making dinner reservations, the most preferred cuisine for diners is Italian, followed by French and Seafood.

  13. Candy hearts were created from medical lozenges. In 1847, Boston pharmacist Oliver Chase invented a machine that simplified the lozenge production process, resulting in the first candy-making machine, according to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America.

  14. Oliver Chase and his brother Silas Edwin Chase, founded New England Confectionary Company (NECCO), which is considered the oldest, continuously operating candy company in America.

Next up? Get more Valentine's Day trivia.