Valentine’s Day Countdown
until February 14, 2017
Valentine’s Day Facts and History
Valentine’s Day is a holiday that is celebrated in the United States and in many countries around the world. Not an official public holiday, Valentine’s Day is normally celebrated by couples but can involve larger community celebrations. Always observed on February 14, the holiday’s meaning has changed over the centuries. Today, the holiday is a celebration of love and a time when romantic partners are meant to show how they feel for one another.
The date of Valentine’s Day coincides with the feast day of Saint Valentine. In Catholic history, there were numerous martyrs named Valentine that were celebrated with masses and feasting on this date beginning during the Middle Ages.
Over the centuries, people began honoring one single “valentine” on the Feast Day, though historical facts about who this person was are greatly limited. The folklore surrounding the possibly fictitious figure holds that the saint may have performed secret weddings for Christians despite the threat of execution. Other stories say that he fell in love with the daughter of his jailer while waiting for his execution and passed her notes that read “your valentine.”
The Modern Meaning
Valentine’s Day as we know it today started in the UK where people began sending cards and gifts to one another in memory of Saint Valentine. Slowly, the religious meaning of the holiday disappeared, leaving only the idea of love behind. Today, Valentine’s Day is meant to be a celebration of romantic love and is a secular holiday. Businesses do not close for the holiday though some may have parties to observe the day in other ways.
How Valentine’s Day is Celebrated
An estimated 55 percent of all Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day every year. Valentine’s Day traditions and customs in the United States include:
- Gift Giving: Americans spend $18.9 billion on gifts and outings for Valentine’s Day every year. Popular gifts include candy, flowers and jewelry. Many couples go out for dinner on Valentine’s Day, and restaurants often fill up for the entire evening.
- Valentine’s Cards: In school, children often exchange small cards in envelopes. Called valentines, the cards are usually not romantic and instead feature messages of friendship. Many schools have Valentine’s Day parties with children making special boxes to collect their valentines in during the festivities.
- Wearing Red: Red is considered the color of romance, so many people will wear red clothing or accessories on Valentine’s Day. The color is also used for decorating and many Valentine’s Day cards feature the color.
- Conversation Hearts: Sugary candies called conversation hearts are often given out on Valentine’s Day. The candies come in pastel colors and have messages on them with a romantic theme like “Be Mine” or “Hug Me.”
- Cupids and Hearts: Cupid is a common motif for Valentine’s Day. The mythological figure is a winged baby angel who is said to cause people to fall in love by shooting them with his special arrow. Hearts are also common decorations for Valentine’s Day.