Love is in the air, yes—but today isn't just about walking around with a severe sugar buzz and reading Hallmark poetry. We found some funky facts about Valentine's Day that we're betting you didn't know:
1. In Japan, women are expected to give chocolate and other gifts to men on Valentine's Day. This tradition was started as a marketing campaign by Japanese chocolate companies. Men are not off the hook, unfortunately. They are expected to return the favor on March 14th, commonly known as White Day.
2. Today, Hallmark employs an 80-person research staff to analyze the sales pattern of previous valentines. That analysis, combined with more than 100,000 annual customer interviews, focus groups and in-store observations, will help create roughly 2,000 cards in Hallmark's core Valentine's Day line.
3. The oldest surviving valentine dates from 1415. It is a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife. At the time, the duke was being held in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.
4. What was the Middle Ages equivalent of posting “Happy Valentine’s Day!” on your Valentine’s Facebook wall? Back then, men and women wore the names of their sweethearts pinned to their sleeves—in fact, that’s where the expression “wearing your heart on your sleeve” comes from!
5. Penicillin, a popular treatment for STDs such as syphilis, was introduced to the world on February 14, 1929.
6. The Italian city of Verona, where Shakespeare’s lovers Romeo and Juliet lived, receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet every Valentine’s Day.
7. In the past, young girls in the US and the UK believed that they could tell the type of man they would marry based on the type of bird they first saw on Valentine’s Day. A blackbird means a clergyman, a robin redbeast meant a sailor, while a goldfinch indicated that they would marry a rich man. A sparrow meant a farmer, a blue bird a happy man, a crossbill an argumentative man, and a dove a good man. Seeing a woodpecker was said to mean that they would not marry at all.
8. BBC reports that Shiv Sena, a nationalist political party in India, has spoken out against Valentine's day, calling it "nothing but a Western onslaught on India's culture to attract youth for commercial purposes."
9. If you’re single don’t despair. You can celebrate Singles Awareness Day (SAD) instead. Meant as an alternative to Valentine’s Day, the holiday is for single people to celebrate or to commiserate in their single status. A common greeting on this day is “Happy SAD!”
10. In Victorian times it was considered bad luck to sign a Valentine’s Day card.