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Is Valentine’s Day the most medical of all holidays?

Explore all the secret connections between Valentine’s and the world of medicine.

Yes, it’s already Valentine’s Day! And if that comes as a surprise, you’ve probably already broken your new year’s resolution to be more prepared for upcoming holidays. In the grand scheme of things, though, it probably doesn’t seem like a very important holiday. When you’re a med student or young physician, you have bigger things to worry about, like, say, stressing out about residency matching or trying to figure out how to manage your money. For many of you, last minute drug-store greeting cards and discount candy are par for the course.

But, if you look deeper, no other holiday is rooted more deeply in the human body and its organs. After all, when February 14th hits, people across the world give and receive chocolates in boxes shaped like the muscular organ responsible for providing the body with oxygen and nutrients. And there are other unexpected connections between Valentine’s Day and the world of medicine, too.

  • In some Italian provinces, special Valentine’s charms in the shapes of keys are given to children in order to ward off an affliction called “Saint Valentine’s Malady” (also known as epilepsy).
  • If you specialize in family medicine or obstetrics, you may already know that some studies have found a correlation between North American birthrates and Valentine’s Day. Specifically. One found that spontaneous births, traditionally assumed to be beyond mother’s control, peaked on Valentine’s Day.
  • Valentine’s Day is all about relationship—and when it comes to health care, is there any relationship more important than the one between doctors and patients? A recent survey sought to uncover the unique traits and qualifiers people desire in a doctor, and what it takes to maintain a lasting relationship.
  • Did you know that in the late 1800s the pharmaceutical industry used to rely on Valentine’s Day to sell their wares? They mass produced cards with sentimental images of roses, doves, cherubs, etc., to promote their products—bitters, tonics, and syrups they claimed would cure everything from constipation to malaria. Which means that the very first Valentine’s Day cards were sent by actual snake-oil salesmen.
  • In Slovenia, Saint Valentine is considered the saint of good health (and also beekeepers, so, uh…he’s covering a lot of ground).

So, whether you’re spending the day with someone you love, flying solo, or cramming for exams, don’t feel weird about taking a bit of time out of your busy schedule to celebrate the Feast of Saint Valentine’s, the most medical of all holidays.

And if you need more proof that Valentine’s and medicine are a match made in heaven, just check out how good these cards are: