Monday, February 8, 2010
Will you be my Valentine?
This coming Sunday, February 14, is Valentine's Day! You still have plenty of time to get something special for that certain someone in your life. Although it is celebrated as a lovers' holiday now, with the giving of candy, flowers, jewelry or cards between couples in love, it originated in 5th Century Rome as a tribute to St. Valentine, a Catholic bishop. The first true Valentine card is said to have been sent in 1415 by Charles, duke of Orleans, to his wife. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London at the time!
America began its love affair with sending Valentine's cards in the 1840's. Esther Howland, daughter of a prosperous Massachusetts merchant, started producing valentines, after having received one from an admirer in England. Her company, The New England Valentine Company, was the first American company to mass produce valentine cards. With the exception of Christmas, Americans exchange more cards on Valentine's Day than any other time of year.
When I was a child, an old-maid cousin of my mother's sent me a box of Valentine chocolates every year. I still remember how exciting it was to receive that shiny package, meant just for me!
Lovers have been sending Valentines for centuries, so collectors of Valentine ephemera have an almost overwhelming variety from which to choose. I collect valentine cards from the 1950s. I love their bright colors and sweet designs. Be sure you save the valentines you get this year. In just a mere 25 years or so, you'll have some great vintage Valentines of your own!