Legends abound about the origins of this most romantic of occasions, dating all the way back to a priest named Valentine who lived during the reign of Roman emperor Claudius II, 268 to 270 A.D., and was put to death for disobeying the law by secretly marrying young couples. Meanwhile, ancient cultures believed that the heart is the home of the human soul and the source of all our emotions, with red being the color of romance.
Couple all that with the fact that, during the Middle Ages in France and England, February 14th was the beginning of birds’ mating season, and you get the idea…
For starters, some up-to-date Valentine’s Day facts:
• About one billion cards are exchanged every year; only Christmas beats that number.
• Women purchase 85% of all cards.
• Teachers receive the most cards, followed by children, mothers, wives, and then sweethearts.
• Venus, the goddess of love, favored roses, and since red symbolizes strong feelings, red roses are considered to be the flower of love.
• Worldwide, more than 50 million roses are given on this day annually.
• Men buy 73% of Valentine’s Day flowers.
• About 8 billion candy hearts will be produced this year.
• Richard Cadbury invented the first Valentine’s Day candy box in 1868.
• More than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates will be sold this time around.
And speaking of chocolate, most of us know it’s a heart-healthy treat-dark chocolate, that is. But there’s also not-so-good news, as reported by KYW Newsradio 1060’s Dr. Brian McDonough: “The amount of chocolate you should have each day is the amount in a Hershey’s kiss. That’s right, one Hershey kiss.” Uh oh!!
But let’s worry about that later; we’re talking about Valentine’s Day, after all.
Along with hearts and flowers, consider putting Macy’s on your list, as it’s a national sponsor of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign celebrating women’s “energy, passion, and power” to wipe out heart disease.
From now until the 14th, a certain percentage of in-store sales of such items as an August Silk red cardigan and specially designed Donatella charm will go to Go Red for Women. In addition, for every Valentine sent through Macy’s Facebook page, the company will donate $1 to the campaign, up to $250,000.
Is it important? You bet. Women are not immune from what was once considered a man’s disease. As the American Heart Association reports:
• 90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
• Heart disease is the #1 cause of death of women 20 and older, killing one woman every minute.
So definitely go shopping, but also make time for some crafting with the kids, such as making a simple Valentine’s bookmark. All you need to do is…
1. Cut a piece of pink or red card stock into a 7″ x 2-1/2″ rectangle.
2. Punch a hole near the top and thread with a pretty ribbon.
3. Decorate the bookmark with holiday-related pictures and/or stickers.
Then take a page from numerous elementary schools where children are celebrating this loving season by recognizing Random Acts of Kindness Week, February 14th to the 20th, and then continuing to pay it forward. You can’t go wrong following suit.
And all the while you’re out there crafting, shopping, and exchanging Valentine’s gifts with loved ones, take heart with the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7:
1. Get active.
2. Control cholesterol.
3. Eat better.
4. Manage blood pressure.
5. Lose weight.
6. Reduce blood sugar.
7. Stop smoking.
Keep laughing too, as it’s good for both heart and soul. At the same time, heed the warning signs of a “broken” heart, and call 911 immediately if you experience:
• Chest discomfort;
• Discomfort in other areas of the upper body;
• Shortness of breath;
• And can include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.
In other words, make this a happy but also heart-healthy Valentine’s Day–chocolates and all. No regrets.