Kids, it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow and I’m sure some of you are running around in a Lifetime Movie Network frenzy of trying to plan the evening. Personally, I’d rather tongue-clean a pigeon coop than get dragged out to dinner tomorrow night, but hey – whatever floats your particular boat. In the spirit of giving, I’m going to break with Today in History protocol and skip ahead to February 14th to give you some date night conversational fodder with these 9 things you didn’t know about Valentine’s Day.
- Pope Gelasius declared February 14 to be Saint Valentine’s Day in 498 A.D. There are at least three different historical martyrs named Valentine, including one beaten with clubs and stoned, then finally beheaded when all else failed to kill him. St. Valentine’s Day was stricken from the church’s official calendar in 1969.
- Hallmark produced its first valentine card in 1913.
- The 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre permanently shifted the balance of power to Al Capone in Prohibition-era gangland Chicago.
- Some identify the genesis of Valentine’s Day with the ancient Lupercalia, a fertility festival with pre-Roman roots that included a celebration of Lupa, the she-wolf who suckled the infant Romulus and Remus, legendary twins who went on to found Rome.
- Although Hamlet is the only Shakespearean play in which Valentine’s Day is mentioned, the city of Verona, literary home of Romeo and Juliet, is inundated with letters to Juliet every Valentine’s Day.
- The Captain and Tennille were married on Valentine’s Day. So were Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.
- Valentine’s Day has been associated with romantic love since the Middle Ages, with lovers commonly offering gifts of flowers and sweets by the 15th century.
- In classical mythology, Cupid (Eros) is the son of Aphrodite and god of desire, erotic love, and affection. Aphrodite had another, lesser-known son with her husband Hermes, who was transformed into half man and half woman in Greek legend. This son, Hermaphroditus, is the basis for the modern term “hermaphrodite.”
- On February 14, 1876, Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell both filed patents on the telephone, enabling over a century of long-distance relationships and arguments over who should be the first one to hang up (hint: it’s you).