These days Valentine’s Day means big boxes of chocolate, bouquets of roses and reservations at fancy restaurants.
As the day people choose to celebrate love, the holiday’s origins are unclear.
Historians trace St. Valentine’s Day to three different martyrs named Valentine.
Because the historical record on any of these was murky, the Catholic Church officially dropped St. Valentine’s Day from its calendar of feasts in 1969, according to American Catholic, an online magazine operated by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cincinnati.
The date is also connected to Lupercalia, a raucous Roman fertility festival, which preceded Valentine’s Day but also occurred in mid-February.
According to a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer, in the Middle Ages many people thought birds chose their mates on Feb. 14, and people should follow their lead.
While the reasons for celebrating love and relationships on Feb. 14 remain unknown, there are a few facts connected to the day.
Test your knowledge of love, Louisiana and our American version of Valentine’s Day here.
1. Today school children, friends and couples will exchange cards to celebrate Valentine’s Day. According to the Greeting Card Association, Americans exchange the most cards on which day?
A. Mother’s Day
B. Valentine’s Day
D. Father’s Day
2. Which is not a street in East Baton Rouge Parish named with a romantic theme?
A. Valentine Road
B. Lovers Lane
C. Rose Street
D. Heart Boulevard
3. Valentine’s Day is the top American holiday for fresh flowers, according to the Society of American Florists. How many roses were produced for the holiday last year?
A. 1 billion
B. 224 million
C. 562 million
D. 92 million
4. At the start of every Valentine’s Day, Baton Rouge couples traditionally share a kiss where?
A. State Capitol observation deck
B. The Campanile or Memorial Tower at LSU
C. Lovers Lane in midcity Baton Rouge
D. Memorial Oak Grove at LSU
5. When and where was the first commercially produced American Valentine card created?
A. 1824 in New Orleans
B. 1795 in Philadelphia, Pa.
C. 1849 in Worcester, Mass.
D. 1864 in Skowhegan, Maine.
6. Each year, NECCO manufactures 8 billion Sweethearts, the heart-shaped conversation candy. In 1902, when the company first stamped them out, the heart was just one of several shapes produced. Which of the following choices was not an original conversation candy?
7. In the epic poem “Evangeline,” the tale of star-crossed Acadian lovers written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline searches for Gabriel everywhere from their home in Nova Scotia to the new settlements in south Louisiana. Where does Evangeline find Gabriel, who is near death?
A. St. Martinville
B. Philadelphia, Pa.
C. New Orleans
D. Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia
8. Which south Louisiana location has become a popular spot to watch couples get engaged and married on Valentine’s Day?
A. Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans
B. Old Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge
C. City Park sculpture garden in New Orleans
D. Evangeline Oak in St. Martinville
9. Billions of candy hearts and chocolates are made every year for Feb. 14. Does that make Valentine’s Day the largest holiday for confectioners? Which is candy manufacturers’ favorite American holiday?
D. Valentine’s Day
10. Which is not a Louisiana city, town or village named with a Valentine’s Day theme?
D. St. Rose
1-C. Americans give more greeting cards at Christmas than any other holiday, trading 1.6 billion, according to the Greeting Card Association. Valentine’s Day comes in a distant second, with 190 million cards traded last year. Counting all the handmade cards elementary school students make could boost that a bit.
2-D.Valentine Road runs north and south in eastern Baton Rouge. Lovers Lane is in midcity Baton Rouge. Zachary has a Rose Street, and Briarwood Estates in Baton Rouge has a Rose Place.
3-B.Last year 224 million roses were grown for Valentine’s Day. Of all flowers purchased for the holiday, 51 percent were red roses, which symbolize love, according to the Society of American Florists.
4-B.Couples meet at midnight at LSU’s Memorial Tower as Feb. 13 becomes Valentine’s Day, a recent university tradition.
5-C.Esther Howland created the first commercial Valentines in Worcester, Mass., after receiving an English Valentine, according to the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. She sold them through her father’s stationery store, creating a $100,000-a-year business.
6-D.In the 1860s, NECCO (the New England Confectionery Co.) created a machine that printed words on lozenges, according to the company’s history at http://www.NECCO.com. They were entertainment at weddings and parties. In 1902, they began cutting them into various shapes, but not muskets.
7-B.Longfellow’s poem “Evangeline” is the best-known story of the Acadian expulsion from Nova Scotia and migration to south Louisiana. After Evangeline travels to Louisiana, she searches for her Gabriel, who has come and gone. She finds him in Philadelphia while working as a Sister of Mercy. Longfellow wrote of Gabriel’s death:
“Vainly he strove to rise; and Evangeline, kneeling beside him,
Kissed his dying lips, and laid his head on her bosom.”
8-D.At least one couple will be married this afternoon at the Evangeline Oak in St. Martinville, said Jessie Thibodeaux, tourism coordinator at the Acadian Memorial and St. Martinville Tourism. The Acadian Memorial staff will host a reception at the Old Castillo Bed and Breakfast (220 Evangeline Blvd.) for couples that have been engaged or married at the Evangeline Oak, which is located nearby in Evangeline Oak Park.
9-B.While $1.6 billion will be spent on Valentine’s Day candy this year, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation, Americans spent $2.4 billion on the sweet stuff in October.
10-A.Valentine in Lafourche Parish doesn’t have a post office, but Sugartown in Beauregard Parish and St. Rose in St. Charles Parish do. Loving, La., just doesn’t exist.