My Vinegar Valentines
Thursday, 13 February 2014
10 Saint Valentine's Day trifles.
- St. Valentine’s Day traces its roots to a Pagan festival - held on the ides of February - called 'Lupercalia', at which men stripped naked and smacked women's arses with whips as part of a fertility ceremony.*
- Saint Valentine is the patron saint of lovers and engaged couples. He is also the patron saint of, amongst other things, epilepsy, plague and bee keepers.
- The patron of love is Saint Anthony, whose day is celebrated on June 13th.
- From the Victorian period to the early twentieth century, there was a craze for insulting greeting cards – called ‘Vinegar Valentines’. (In 1906, the Chicago post office refused to deliver 25,000 of them.)
- Penicillin, a popular treatment for venereal diseases, was introduced to the world on Saint Valentine’s Day 1929.
- According to the American greetings card company Hallmark, around 15% of women in the United States that received flowers for Valentine’s Day last year sent them to themselves.
- The New England Confectionary Company sells more than 8 billion candy hearts (similar to the UK’s Lovehearts) a year – mostly on the run up to Valentine’s Day. In 2011, the company ‘retired’ the classic phrases ‘Hep Cat’ and ‘Fax me’, in favour of ‘Tweet me’ and ‘Text me’.
- According to the US National Retail Federation survey, more than nine million pet owners bought Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets in 2013.
- In Japan, where (due to a mistranslation) only females give out St. Valentine’s Day gifts, men can protect themselves against the shame and ignominy of receiving nothing with ‘Valentine’s Insurance’.
- On February 14th last year, romantic Americans spent in excess of $14.7 billion on flowers. Similar to the GDP of Iceland.
*Or, according to Wikipedia, ‘striking those they met with shaggy thongs’.
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Publication date: October 2013