Valentine’s Day. Think of it as a breather in the midst of winter, a time to say hello to friends, an excuse to send silly love messages, or the chance to spark a little romance.
No one knows for sure how Valentine’s Day started – there are at least three legends involving a saint named Valentine or Valentinus – but we do know it started in Rome around AD 270, and that it coincided with an ancient fertility festival called Lupercalia.
Here are some other fun facts about Valentines as we know them today.
V is for Vinegar. Vinegar Valentines are greeting cards containing insults or even obscenities. They were especially popular in the early 1900s, often targeted at suffragettes. At one time in Chicago, the Post Office rejected some 25,000 cards on the grounds that they were “not fit” be carried through the United States Mail.
A is for Americans. We exchange approximately 145 million cards on Valentine’s Day, making it the second largest holiday for sending cards, (Christmas is #1, or course, and over 2 billion cards are sent each year to celebrate birthdays).
L is for Lace. Lace has been associated with romance since the days of knighthood when a knight rode into battle with a ribbon or scarf given him by his lady fair. The word “Lace” comes from a Latin word meaning a “noose” or “snare”. The original Valentine cards used real lace; later, people made Pinprick Valentines, poking tiny holes in paper to make it look like lace.
E is for Esther Howland who, as a student at Mount Holyoke College, crafted the first commercial American Valentines, using lace, fine papers, and other supplies imported from England by her father, who was a stationer.
N is for Nonsense rhyme, which every good Valentine should have, preferably a pun or a rebus, where a picture substitutes for a word: “Valentine, I’m not lion, please bee mine.”
T is for Tradition. Valentine’s Day has been with us since the Middle Ages, and our card exchanging tradition since the 1800’s.
I is for ‘I can hardly believe it!” About one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide.
N is for Nineteenth-century Great Britain, when Valentines as we know them today first came into fashion.
E is for Entrepreneur. Eventually Esther Howland, also a printer and artist, employed several assistants and her brothers to manufacture and market her “Worcester” valentines, She was one of our first successful U.S. career women; her sales amounted to about a hundred thousand dollars annually–not bad for the 1830’s.
S is for Sailors. These men of the seas were more romantic than you might think. They carved hearts and other loving designs on rounded long sticks fashioned from ivory or wood. The stick was worn by the sailor’s sweetheart inside her corset; thus it came to be known as a “Busk Valentine”. Ouch!
Did you know that we offer a kit for making old-fashioned Valentines? It’s filled with colored cards, envelopes, lacy doilies, hearts and everything you need to make Valentines.
Everything you need to make creative cards for your friends, family and classmates. Check out our Valentines Craft Kit Here