Thousands of letters are sent to “Juliet” in Verona, Italy, the subject of course being the timeless romantic tragedy of “Romeo and Juliet.” The letters are dutifully answered by a team of volunteers from the Juliet Club, awarding each year the "Cara Giulietta" ("Dear Juliet") prize to the author of the most touching love letter.
The Valentine’s Day tradition of giving a box of candy was started in the 19th century by Richard Cadbury of the British chocolate manufacturing family who developed a technique to create more varieties of chocolate.
During the Victoria Era, those who didn’t want the attention of certain suitors would anonymously send “vinegar valentines." According to Smithsonian, these cards, also called penny dreadfuls, were the antithesis of customary valentines.
The term “wearing your heart on your sleeve” may have origins in picking a valentine. Smithsonian reports that during the Middle Ages, men would draw the names of women who they would be coupled with for the upcoming year while attending a Roman festival honoring Juno. After choosing, the men wore the names on their sleeves to show their bond during the festivities.
The iconic chalky heart-shaped candies that have been passed out every Valentine’s Day started out as lozenges by inventor Oliver Chase. His brother came up with the idea to print messages on the candy in 1866, and the candies got their heart shape in 1901.
This year 2019 will be the first year the heart candy will not be manufactured; a new owner needs time to supply the hearts.
The idea of using a kiss to sign off on valentines also has a long history, according to the Washington Post. The use of “X” came to represent Christianity, or the cross, in the Middle Ages. During the same time, the symbol was used to sign off on documents. After marking with an X, the writer would often kiss the mark as a sign of their oath. As the gesture grew among kings and commoners to certify books, letters and paperwork, these records were described as having been “sealed with a kiss.”
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