Most of us know Valentine’s Day as a fiesta of flowers, cards, chocolates and maybe even breakfast in bed. But there’s far more to it than that. We’ve done a bit of digging, and compiled 14 facts about Valentine’s Day that we found interesting, fun and maybe just a bit bizarre.
The big business of Valentine’s Day
1. The US produces 250 million roses for Valentine’s Day each year
That’s what we hear from The Society of American Florists, who also say that roses account for 83% of all Valentine’s Day fresh flower sales.
2. Hallmark says its industry sells 145 million cards each Valentine’s Day
And that’s not including all the adorably self-made cards. For perspective: with 145 million cards, you could wish a happy Valentine’s Day to every person in the UK twice, and still have enough left over for the entire population of Switzerland.
3. IKEA once did a very ‘wink, wink’ Valentine’s Day promotion
Those cheeky flatpackers love a clever promo. For Valentine’s Day 2013, they offered a free cot for any parent whose baby was born on November 14th that year – exactly nine months after all the flowers, chocolates and romantic date nights.
The muddled origins of Valentine’s day
4. They say Saint Valentine was the origin of the celebration
We know there was a priest called Saint Valentine in Rome, who died somewhere close to 270 CE. The history tentatively says he was executed on February 14th for performing secret wedding ceremonies, after Emperor Claudius II had outlawed weddings. (Long story.)
5. But it could’ve been another person entirely
Supposedly there was another Roman priest named Valentine, the Bishop of Terni, who also performed secret weddings and was also sentenced to death. Historians say the origin of Valentine’s Day could be either of these men. Or both. Or maybe they were the same person. It’s complicated.
6. Or it could’ve all come about as a cute celebration of birds
If secret weddings and public beheadings sound a bit too brutal for your tastes, how about this story instead: Ye Olde Europeans believed that lovebirds mated on February 14th – and so took this as an ideal date to celebrate romance in their lives. Ain’t that sweet?
7. Or maybe it all started with a poem centuries later
Another origin story states that Valentine’s Day traditions only really began with poet Geoffrey Chaucer in the 1300s. He wrote a poem called ‘Parliament of Fowls’ about birds choosing their mates. (Bit of a through-line there.) This poem supposedly linked February 14th with romantic gifts for the first time.
Valentine’s Day in the pop culture
8. Whitney Houston rules Spotify on February 14th
When pestered by Business Insider, Spotify revealed the top tracks played on ‘Valentine’s Day’ or ‘love’ playlists. The top spot went to Whitney Houston with the hit song ‘Andaaaaaeeeeayyyyy Will Always Love You’.
9. Sonic The Hedgehog is the biggest Valentine’s Day movie ever (technically)
Raking in just over $58 million in 2020, Sonic The Hedgehog holds the record for the highest-grossing opening weekend of any film released on February 14th. The dates didn’t quite match up for the 2010 movie literally called Valentine’s Day – it released on February 12th.
Quirky news stories in Valentine’s Day news
10. No one knows who gave Gordon the Goose a Valentine’s Day card
In the UK village of Nayland, Suffolk, a local goose (nicknamed Gordon) was known for socializing with people at a particular bus stop. On Valentine’s Day 2019, Gordon found a large “be my valentine” card fixed to the bus stop, featuring a big red heart and a hand-drawn picture of him. Apparently the locals have no idea what local goose could’ve had the dexterity to create such a card.
11. A Chicago zoo will let you name a cockroach after your ex on Valentine’s Day
Brookfield Zoo, to be specific. Turn up on Valentine’s day and for $15 you can make a Madagascar hissing cockroach your ex’s namesake. For your money, you get a certificate, a place on the ‘cockroach naming board’ and one poor cockroach has to update all its legal documents.
12. The world’s longest kiss ended on Valentine’s Day
But it didn’t start on Valentine’s Day – that’s the length of kiss we’re talking about here. Thailand’s Ekkachai Tiranarat and Laksana Tiranarat kissed for a total of 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds – starting on February 12th 2013. You can read about it in The Guiness World Record. How did they eat and drink? How did they take bathroom breaks? We have so many questions.
13. Penguins exchange Valentines Day cards in a US aquarium
Biologists at a San Francisco aquarium have a tradition of giving penguins little felt hearts to exchange with their partners on Valentine’s Day. They say the male penguins give them to the females, who use them as ‘nest-building materials’ – although we would’ve said ‘decorative keepsakes for the family home’.
14. Put your love story on the page with a personalized Valentine’s Day book from wonderbly.com
It’s not a historical or quirky fact, but it’s a true one. Our love books let you create a unique Valentine’s Day gift, complete with photos, personal messages and all the little details that make your love story unlike any other. And unlike a box of chocolates, it’ll still be bringing joy long after February 14th.