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12 strange things you might not know about St Valentine's Day
6:00am Friday 14th February 2014 in News
EVERYONE knows Valentine’s Day is about love, romance, cards, chocolates and flowers – but there are some things about the occasion you might not know.
Here we round up 12 things you need (OK, so need might be too strong a word) to know about Valentine’s Day.
1. Nobody knows for sure exactly who Valentine was and what he did to inspire the February 14 festivities. There are numerous tales which vary wildly and involve one or more saints that could have been Valentine. The most popular theory goes that Valentine was a priest during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II and was condemned to die on February 14 in or around 270 AD. Claudius had issued a decree that Roman soldiers were not allowed to marry - because marriage would inhibit their ability to fight! But it is said that romantic Valentine continued to marry soldiers in secret, until eventually his clandestine activities were discovered and he was beheaded!
2. The jailer’s daughter also comes into the story. Legend has it Valentine fell in love with her and left a note signed 'Your Valentine' before he was led away to his death. In some places it is said the jailer’s daughter was blind and had her sight restored by Valentine.
3. In medieval times, there was a romantic belief that birds chose their mate in February.
4. Author Geoffrey Chaucer first linked February 14 with romance. In his Parlement of Foules, he wrote: "For this was Seynt Valentine's Day when every foul cometh ther to choose his mate."
5. In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.
6. Going back centuries, it was also believed that the first unmarried person of the opposite sex you met on the morning of St Valentine's Day, would become your spouse.
7. In 1537 by Royal Charter King Henry VIII made St Valentine's Day official in England and since then the idea has spread.
8. Some never give up. The Countess of Newburgh gave the brush-off to an earl 15 times and locked him out of her house. So he climbed down her chimney and pledged his love. It was a case of 16th time lucky.
9. The first paper cards appeared towards the end of the 18th century. Many were ridiculous, with vulgar cartoons that probably brought about the practice of the sender remaining anonymous. Cards became more romantic during Victorian times and grew very ornate, with sentimental pictures, lace edges and lavish silk and velvet backgrounds.
10. About three per cent of pet owners will give Valentine's Day gifts to their pets.
11. Seventy-three per cent of people who buy flowers for Valentine's Day are men and 27 per cent women.
12. There is an old superstition that if you see a robin on St Valentine's Day you will marry a sailor. If you see a sparrow, you will marry a poor man. If you see a goldfinch, you will marry a millionaire.
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