14 things you didn't know about Valentine's Day – including why 'x' symbolises a kiss!

We've got 14 'who knew?' facts about February 14

We all know that Valentine's Day (also known as Feast of Saint Valentine) is celebrated on February 14th to show our loved ones how much they are adored.

Related: Celebrate much-loved pals with these fabulous Galentine's Day gifts

But who was St. Valentine? Why do we send chocolates? Where does the red rose tradition come from? We've done some digging and found all the facts you need to know about the big day...

coasters with cups

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

1. Where did Valentine's Day come from?

The most popular theory says that Emperor Claudius II didn't want Roman men to marry during wartime, but a chap called Bishop Valentine went against his wishes and performed secret weddings.

2. Why is it celebrated on February 14?

In 1537, King Henry VII officially declared February 14 as the holiday of St. Valentine's Day - and it has stuck ever since.

3. Why are red roses traditional?

red roses

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

The red rose was the favourite flower of Venus - the Roman goddess of love.

Related: Why you should NEVER send yellow roses on Valentine's Day if you want to impress your lover

4. When was the first Valentine's Day card sent?

valentines card

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Bevan)

The Duke of Orleans sent the earliest Valentine's card to his wife whilst he was a prisoner in the Tower of London in the 15th century.

5. Why does an 'X' symbolise a kiss?

People in medieval times who couldn't write their names signed in front of a witness with an X which they then kissed to show their sincerity.

6. Who is Cupid?

Cupid is the son of Venus, the god of beauty and love.

7. Why is red the colour of Valentine's Day?

bedroom with bedside lamp

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Bevan)

It was once believed that the heart was the part of the body that the feeling of love came from. As the heart pumped red blood around the body, the colour became the symbol of love.

8. How many love notes do we write?

Around billion Valentine's Day cards are exchanged across the world each year, making it the second largest card sending time of the year after Christmas.

Related: It's a sign! The Royal Mail reveals the UK's most romantic addresses

9. Who first wore their heart on a sleeve?

valentines day

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

A tradition began in the Middle Ages where men and women would draw names from a bowl to see who would be their Valentine. They would then wear the piece of paper on their sleeve for a week.

10. How do other cultures celebrate Valentine's Day?

Finland calls Valentine's Day Ystävänpäivä, which translates into 'Friend's day'. It's all about celebrating your friends rather than your partner.

11. Why do we gift chocolates?

chocolates with roses

(Image credit: Future PLC/Chris Alack)

Richard Cadbury first gave chocolates to his beloved in a heart-shaped box in 1868.

12. What about the singles?

Valentine's Day also doubles as Singles Awareness Day in many countries. In China, however, it is celebrated on Nov 11 and singletons are known for treating themselves to some online shopping. The date has been dubbed China's 'Black Friday.'

13. How many roses are sent?

Approximately 50 million roses are received on Valentine's Day around the world.

14. What about our beloved pets?

pets gift on valentines day

(Image credit: Future PLC/Spike Powell)

At least 9 million people buy their pets a gift on Valentine's Day. We wonder if that includes fish?!

Related: Revealed: World's most expensive Valentine's Day bouquet – you will NOT believe the price!

How will you be celebrating Valentine's Day this year?

Deputy Editor

Jennifer is the Deputy Editor (Digital) for Homes & Gardens online. Prior to her current position, she completed various short courses a KLC Design School, and wrote across sister brands Ideal Home, LivingEtc, 25 Beautiful Homes, Country Homes & Interiors, and Style at Home.