10 things you may not have known about Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day chocolates and a rose. Photo: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire.

Valentine's Day chocolates and a rose. Photo: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

It's that time of year again, February 14 is around the corner and every where you go you're greeted by red hearts and pink streamers - but what's the significance of the day? Courtney Pochin takes a look at some of the quirky things you may not have know about the annual holiday.

• Valentine's Day is also known as Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine.

• The day first became associated with romantic love in the 14th century, within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer, as the tradition of courtly love began to flourish.

• It wasn't until the 18th century when lovers began to express their feelings for each other by giving flowers, cards or confectionery.

• In the province of Padua in Italy, metal keys named after Saint Valentine, the patron saint of love and marriage, are given as gifts on February 14 as a symbolic invitation to unlock the giver's heart. They are also given to children as they are believed to offer a cure for epilepsy.

• A popular theory about the origin of the holiday is that Emperor Claudius II didn't want Roman men to be getting married during wartime. Saint Valentine is said to have gone against his wishes and performed secret weddings.

• It's not the most popular holiday for giving greeting cards. It's the second most popular, after Christmas. According to the Greeting Card Association around 190 million Valentine's Cards are exchanged anually.

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• The first Valentine's Day box of chocolates was made in England by Richard Cadbury in 1868.

• Back in the Middle Ages, men would draw names to see who would be their Valentine. Their chosen name would be pinned to their sleeves for a week so everyone would know who their Valentine was. This is where the phrase 'wearing your heart on your sleeve' originates from.

• Roses have been a symbol of romance since ancient Roman times and are often given as a gift on Valentine's Day. The red rose was the favourite flower of Venus the Goddess of love.

• If you're not in a relationship and don't want to celebrate the day of love, there's always Galentine's Day on February 13. The term was coined by Parks and Recreation character Leslie Knope in 2010 and is a nonofficial holiday for 'ladies celebrating ladies'.