These Valentines myths about the Day for Lovers might surprise you, and you might find that what you thought you knew about the pink and red holiday known for hearts, Cupid, and Teddy bears isn’t quite true.
One legend of St. Valentine is that he was arrested and beheaded for marrying Christian couples or Roman soldiers to Christians. Another is that the earlier Valentine was imprisoned for refusing to convert to Paganism, and through his prison prayers, he healed the jailer's blind daughter. On the day of his execution he supposedly left her a note that was signed “Your Valentine" – which was the first Valentine’s Day card. No evidence exists to support these or any of the other legends associated with St. Valentine, or even confirm when they might have occurred.
Lovers exchanging hand-made cards as tokens of affection on Valentine's Day had become common in England by the 18th century. Eventually, these cards, usually made of lace or ribbons, and featuring the familiar iconography of cupids and hearts, spread to the American colonies.
Chocolate has been a traditional Valentine’s Day staple since sometime after the 15th Century Aztecs made it an aphrodisiac. And indeed, some kinds of chocolate contain two chemicals found in people who are either aroused or in love. One is tryptophan, which is an element of serotonin. The other is phenylethylamine, a stimulant released in the brain when people fall in love.
Will you marry me?
It may seem like the perfect time to pop the question. But 40% think that this day is too cliché to call itself romantic. Put that ring away!
This highly clichéd bit of poetic doggerel stretches back to the English nursery rhyme collection Gammer Gurton's Garland from 1784. And it probably goes even further than that, with a reference to “red roses” found in Sir Edmund Spenser’s 1590 epic The Faerie Queen. It probably entered the popular lexicon when it was a line in one of the songs in Victor Hugo’s 1862 book Les Miserables.