Brainy Secrets in those Valentine's Sweets

As February 14th looms, so does the dark shadow of unbelievably cheesy cards, flowers at twice the price, nauseating Facebook posts that seem more like a competition for bragging rights about who has the best boo...or is it bae now?For a day that’s supposed to be about true love and happiness, there are few holidays that evoke a collective groan like Valentine's Day. A quick Google search will generate more hits than you could possibly read in your lifetime about the commodification of love, coping strategies for unmet expectations, or how to survive being single on the day that celebrates couples.  



Ironically, the history of Valentine’s Day isn’t exactly filled with love and romance. In fact, this holiday has a dark and twisted history. Although historians quibble over the actual origin of the holiday, the Romans “celebrated” long before Hallmark.

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia, an annual festival in the month of February that was celebrated to chase out evil spirits and increase the fertility of the females. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, and then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain. According to some historians, the Roman romantics were drunk and naked while the women lined up for their turn with the whip.

February 14 became the official modern day of love, romance, chocolate and overpriced flowers thanks to an execution on February 14th in the 3rd century A.D. Under the rule of Roman Emperor Claudius II, Rome was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join the military. Claudius believed it was because of Roman men were too focused on Roman women and love. As a result, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome.

Valentine, a holy priest, defied Claudius and performed marriages on the downlow. When Claudius discovered this, he arrested Valentine and ordered death by beheading. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270. Legend also has it that St. Valentine was a hopeless romantic to the very end. While in jail awaiting his execution, he left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter and signed it “From Your Valentine.”

As the years went on, it got a little sweeter and eventually made its way across the pond. Thanks to the industrial revolution in the 19th century, factory-made cards were introduced. And in 1913, a little company called Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo., began mass producing valentines.

Today, “Be mine” means big business. Here a few Valentine’s Day fun facts:

  • February 14th is the second largest card giving day of the year, just after Christmas. This year, 1 billion cards will be exchanged around the world.
  • More than 40 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold this year.
  • Approximately 8.2 billion conversation hearts are produced each year.
  • That is enough to stretch from Valentine, Arizona to Rome, Italy, and back again.
  • Men spend an average of $130 while women spend about $70.
  • It’s expected that $1.7 Billion will be spent on candy this year.

Check out 5 Brainy Secrets to Chocolate

Find out what Valentine's Day candy is the most popular in your state. 

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