MANILA, Philippines - Did you know that in Japan, women give chocolates to their boyfriends, male friends and co-workers on Valentine's Day?
In celebration of the day of hearts next week, here are some interesting facts about Valentine's Day:
- Sales of condoms and contraceptive pills are higher during Valentine's week, several companies that sell these products have claimed. Among them are Durex and Yes2condom, a 24/7 online retail service.
- Last year, a party-list group in the Philippines gave out free condoms on Valentine's Day as part of an effort to inform people on reproductive rights and secure support for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill.
- On February 14, 2001, 34 couples from 22 countries exchanged wedding vows ten meters underwater near Kradan Island in Southern Thailand. This currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most number of couples married simultaneously underwater.
- Last year, Iran banned Valentine tokens such as teddy bears as part of an Islamic republic backlash against Western culture. In 2003, religious activists in India raided shops and burned Valentine's Day cards, while some in Pakistan condemned the occasion as "a day of shame and lust."
- In Japan, women give chocolates to their boyfriends, male friends and co-workers on Valentine's Day. Men return the favor on March 14, known as White Day, by handing out white chocolates, lingerie and jewelry to their female friends and loved ones.
- A group of feminists began to celebrate an occasion called "Quirkyalone Day" as an alternative to Valentine's Day. It is geared toward people who "resist the tyranny of coupledom." The SAD or Single Awareness Day, on the other hand, aims to remind people that they do not need to be in a relationship to celebrate the 14th of February.
- The largest chocolate bar mosaic on the Guinness World Records was made in Switzerland during February 14, 2011. It is 18.35 meters long and made with 1,500 bars of white chocolate and red-colored white chocolate.
- Flowers given during Valentine's Day have different meanings. Red roses mean love, yellow roses mean friendship, and pink roses mean friendship or sweetheart. Red carnations mean admiration, white carnations mean pure love, red chrysanthemums mean love, and primrose means young love.
- In Germany, young girls would plant onions in a pot on Valentine's Day, and place the name of a boy next to each onion. They believed that they would marry the boy whose name was nearest to the first onion to grow.
- Young girls in the United States and the United Kingdom believed that they could tell the type of man they would marry based on the type of bird they first saw on Valentine's Day. A blackbird means a clergyman, a robin redbeast means a sailor, while a goldfinch indicates that they would marry a rich man. A sparrow means a farmer, a blue bird a happy man, a crossbill an argumentative man, and a dove a good man. Seeing a woodpecker is said to mean that they would not marry at all.
- A kiss on Valentine's Day is said to bring good luck all year.
- In the medieval times, doves are widely believed to choose their mates on February 14. It has become a favorite symbol for Valentine cards.
- In 2010, the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi had what may be the priciest Valentine offer: a seven-day stay for $1 million. The offer included a romantic dinner in-suite or on a yacht at sea, helicopter flights, use of the Abu Dhabi golf course, horse riding, watching camel racing, and perfume making. A private jet was also on call for a quick shopping spree to other countries in the region.
- Last year, the New York Bronx Zoo gave people a chance to name a Madagascar-hissing cockroach after their special someone as a Valentine's Day offering. The Madagascar is the largest and noisiest variety of cockroach.
- It is said that teachers receive the most Valentine cards, followed by children, mothers and wives. Children ages 6 to 10 exchange more than 650 million Valentine cards every year.
Guinness World Records