Across the United States and other parts of the world, people celebrate February 14 by exchanging everything from candy hearts and red roses to cute cards and romantic gifts with loved ones. But how exactly did these sweet traditions come about?
1. It has some pretty dark roots.
Valentine's Day actually began in Ancient Rome as a pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia. The day was celebrated with activities that included sacrificing animals and whipping women with animal skins until they bled, signifying their fertility.
2. Nearly 6 million couples get engaged on Valentine's Day.
Seriously, what better day is there for a marriage proposal than a day literally dedicated to love and romance? Valentine's Day is one of the popular days to pop the question, with as many as 6 million couples getting engaged on February 14.
3. The first valentine was sent in the 15th century.
The oldest record of a valentine being sent was a poem written by a French medieval duke named Charles to his wife in 1415. Charles penned this sweet note to his lover while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London at just 21 years old. One of the lines in the poem was, "I am already sick of love, My very gentle Valentine." Swoon!
4. It's celebrated differently around the world.
Many Latin American countries know the holiday as el día de los enamorados (day of lovers) or día del amor y la amistad (day of love and friendship). Though couples exchange flowers and chocolate on this day, the holiday's focus is also directed at showing gratitude to friends!