Love it or Hate it, Valentines day has a vast history from goat slapping to love based commercialism to important days in USA history as well as even having an important tie to youtube.
1. Odd Origins
Originally there was a ancient Roman festival held on February the 15th known as Lupercalia. Each Lupercalia began with a male goat and male dog sacrifice. After the the animals' death, the bloody knife is touched to the forehead of the men who brought the animals to the alter. Then the blood was wiped off with wool dipped in milk and the two men were required to smile and laugh. When the sacrifice ritual was complete, all who celebrated had a big feast. After the feast, young men would run about the land and city slapping any females they came into contact with with strips of the sacrificed goat's skin. A slap from the animal skin thong was seen as a good thing, the women would commonly line up on known routes for a slap. A goat skin slap would make the woman fertile, and make child birth less painful since goats were known to represent sexuality. The purpose of this was to secure fertility, keep out evil, and honor the gods Lupercus & Faunus aka Pan along with Lupa the she wolf who nursed Rome's founders, and the founders of Rome themselves; Remus & Romulus. It also celebrated the anniversary of Lupercus's temple whose priests wore goat skins. Celebrating this ancient Festival publicly ended in the 5th century when Pope Gelasius the 1st banned the event. However, Pope Gelasius wasn't the only one to take issue with the Lupercalia holiday. There were non supporters since the 1st century with one of the most well known being Mark Anthony back in 44 BC. In the year 496, Pope Gelasius re branded Lupercalia into a christian holiday to honor St. Valentine and changed the date to the 14th.
2. Which St. Valentine Were We Honoring Again?!
There were at least three different saints by that name so its lost in history as to which one was being honored. One was a priest in Rome, another was a bishop in Terni and the third St Valentine we know practically nothing about. All three were martyred on February the 14th. A lot of scholars claim that the St being honored was a priest who attracted the disfavor of a Roman emperor named Claudius the 2nd back around the year 270.
According to legend, Claudius banned young men from getting married because he thought bachelors made better soldiers than married men. Valentine continued to preform marriages in secret. He was eventually found out and put in jail. While in Jail, Valentine fell in love with the Jailer's daughter. Before he was executed, he wrote a letter to the Jailer's daughter and signed it "from your Valentine".
It wasn't until the 14th century that the holiday because about love.
3. "The Mother Of The American Valentine"
By the 18th century, it became common to exchange gifts and homemade cards to celebrate Valentine's day in England.
However it wasn't until the 1850s that card giving tradition became common in the United States when Esther Howland began mass producing cards after graduating college at only 19 years old. As a young college woman, Esher was exposed to Valentines festivals and after graduation she received an elaborate valentine's day card from one of her dad's business associates (her family ran the largest stationary and book business in Worcester Massachusetts.). Upon seeing the card, and using her past valentines day experiences, Esther was positive that she too could make valentines day cards and that her cards would be better than those that people have previously made.
With her new business idea in mind, she was able to convince her father to order lace paper and other supplies from New York and from England. After she got her supplies, Esther made a dozen card samples which she sent off with her brother on his next sales trip. Her brother returned with more than $5,000 in advance sales! She quickly hired friends, and got to work on the orders. Esther's business quickly became very successful. Between ads and word of mouth her cards were known from Maine all the way to California and her business made around $100,000 per a year. While Esther wasn't the first to make Valentines in the USA, she was the one who popularized lace cards and helped make cards into a major industry. In 1881 Esther sold her company George Whitney so that she could care for her ailing father. She died in 1904 but her legacy will live on. It is because Esther's bravery to start up a business, despite Woman of the being expected not to assert themselves, that cards have become a million dollar business and that Valentines day is a widely celebrated holiday in the USA. Without her, Giving cards might have never become a widely popular thing and no big holiday would be quite the same.
4. Happy Statehood Guys!
On February 14th 1859, Oregon becomes the 33rd state and in 1912 Arizona becomes the 48th state.
5. Picture Perfect
On Valentines day of 1849 in New York City, James Polk becomes the first president to have his picture taken
6. Big Day In Voting History
On Valentine's Day in 1899 voting machines were approved by the US Congress for use in Federal elections. Unlike the electronic voting machine many of us are used to, this was a lever based machine. Using a machine helped speed up the vote counting process and helped reduce dishonest vote counting because the votes were counted by the machine. The first use of this machine was in 1892 Lockport New York. By 1930, the lever voting machine was installed in every major city in the United States. Other early forms of machine voting was Optical scans starting in 1962 and punch cards in 1964. It wasn't until 2002 that electronic based voting machine began being used with Georgia being the first state to use them. While there have been many issues (lost of thousands of votes caste, thousands of votes not counted, security concerns, and glitches/malfunctions with the machines) with the electronic voting machines, they have become the norm for many states to use with elections. Oddly enough, lever machines were brought out of storage for the New York City primary elections in 2013 as well as the November general elections because of the issues they were having with the electronic voting machines. So this old invention still serve a purpose occasionally even today.
Also on this day, in 1920 "The League Of Woman Voters" is established in Chicago during the convention of the National American Woman Association. This happened six months before the 19th amendment was ratified, giving woman the right to vote after a 72 year struggle. This league was designed to help 20 million woman carry out their new voting responsibilities. Post World War 2, the league of Woman voters helped lead the effort to establish "The United Nations" and ensure US participation. After the cold war, the league established multiple international programs in the 1990s. They formed Woman's leadership workshops for Russia and Belarus, hosted woman leaders in Poland and Hungary, strengthening woman's rights in the NIS, and Building Grassroots Democracy in Africa. This league also commonly fights for woman's equal rights, choice of reproduction, the welfare of children, health care, water resources, among other important issues in the world. To this day, The League Of Woman Voters still helps out during the USA election and continues to work with woman in Africa, Brazil, Ukraine, and Russia.
7. Important USA Departments Got Their Start
1903 the United States Department Of Commerce And Labor is established. In 1913, this department was spit up into twi different departments; "United States Department Of Commerce" and "United States Department Of Labor" The department of commerce helps promote Job creation and improved living standards for all of the USA by promoting economic growth, tech competitiveness, and sustainable development. The department of labor helps with work safety, wage standards, unemployment insurance benefits, and re employment services. These are both very important departments in the USA.
8. Valentines Day Is Really Out Of This World
On February 14th 1990, Voyager 1 takes the famous picture of earth. Later in 2000, NEAR Shoemaker orbits around asteroid 433 Eros and becomes the first space craft to ever orbit an asteroid in Earth's history.
9. Happy Birthday YouTube
February 14th 2005, YouTube is launched by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. The first video ever uploaded was on April 23rd and was called "Me at the zoo". In the video is Jawed Karim at the San Diego zoo. During the Summer of 2006, YouTube became on of the fastest growing websites with more than 65,000 new videos and 100 million views per a day. November 16th 2006, Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock. Today 60 mins of video is uploaded to YouTube every second and over 4 billion videos are viewed everyday.
10. Candy Hearts
In 1847, Oliver R. Chase invented a machine to cut lozenges from wafer candy. This was the very first American candy machine. After this, he started up a candy factory with his brothers; Silas Edwin and Daniel and called it "Chase and Company".
In 1866, Oliver's brother began printing phrases on to the candy and called it "Conversation Candies". The candy was commonly used for weddings, birthday parties and other celebrations. In 1901, "Chase and Company forms with two other candy companies; "Hayward and Company", and "Wright and Moody" and adopts the name "NECCO sweets".
In 1902, the candy hearts with the saying on them began being sold and now you can buy them under the name "Sweethearts". Originally other shapes were available. There shapes were; baseballs, horse shoes, watches and post card shapes along with the heart shape ones we all know today. Each Valentines day, NECCO sells around two to four billion of their candy hearts since their candy has become a Valentines day best selling candy. to meet this demand, there is a continuous production of Sweethearts being made from late February to mid January. One of the most popular things about this candy if for sure the phrases that get stamped on to them. The sayings get updated over time but a few of the original phrases can still be found such as; "Be Mine", "Be Good", "Be True", and "Kiss Me". However it is a good thing that these candies evolve over time, other wise you would get some of these old phrases; "You Are Gay", "Saucy Boy", "Wise Up", "As If'", "Oh You Kid", "Moon Beam", "Swing Time", "Write Me", "Page Me" and "Fax Me"...
NECCO's Sweethearts also come in chocolate flavor, sugar free and they also have their saying available in Spanish. You can even order Sweethearts with your own custom phrases via their Website.
11. In Love With The Cocoa
Over one billion dollars are spent on chocolates for valentines day in the USA and more than 35 million heart shaped boxes of chocolate are sold each year for this holiday.
12. Medeval Valentines
In the Middle ages, men and woman would pick out a name from a bowl to see who their Valentine would be. Then they would wear the name pinned into their sleeves for one week for everyone to see. This was where the saying "to wear your heart on your sleeve" came from.
13. Paint The Roses Red
The Red Rose is the favorite flower of the Roman Goddess of love; Venus. Because of this and the color red being associated with romantic feelings, red roses have become a popular Valentine's day gift. In fact, around 189 million roses are sold each Valentine's day in the US.
14. Here Comes The Bride
On average 220,000 people are proposed to each valentines day.
Speaking of marriage, there is lot of Valentines day superstitions that cover this subject. For example, on Valentine's day, legend has it that the first name one reads or hears will be the name of the person you will marry.
Another legends requires the possibility of seeing certain animals. If you see a squirrel on Valentine's day you will marry a cheapskate, and a Sparrow means that you will fall for a poor man, but if you see a goldfinch you will marry a millionaire. Seeing a blue bird on this holiday means that you will marry a happy man and if you see a flock of doves you will have a happy marriage. Hopefully you do not see a Crossbill because if you do, you will marry a man who loves to argue which will probably bing you some future frustration.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and have learned a few new things. Making these fact articles are honestly always a lot of fun for me.
I know this day isn't for everyone though, so If you are feeling sad today and need something to cheer up, back in 2015 my now ex and I made a few videos were we made fun of old Valentines day cards. Since laughter is a good medicine and it fits with the article's theme, I don't believe I will get in much trouble if I post the video links. However, if I never post on this site again, you'll know what happened to me.