Larry’s View

Larry’s view on any and everything.

Valentine day’s cards

The Valentine’s Day Card started life back in the 11th Century as a humble handwritten note. The first Valentine’s Day Card mentioned in history was from Charles, Duc d’Orleans, who sent his wife a Valentine poem from the Tower of London in 1415 where he was imprisoned following the Battle of Agincourt. This is now kept at the British Library in their Manuscript Collection. The humble Valentine’s Day Note has grown over time into a huge commerce that represents millions of dollars each year to the Greeting Card manufacturers.

Saint Valentine’s Day has its roots way back in history when the beginning of Spring was celebrated at this time of the year. Many Fertility Festivals took place in Europe at the beginning of February; Imbulc – a Celtic Festival, and Lubercalia – a Roman Festival, arguably the two most important amongst them. The exchange of small gifts and love notes and the symbols of birds and flowers date back to these Fertility traditions. Cupid, the God of Love, and the heart symbol are more related to the Roman Festival.

When Christianity replaced many Pagan Festivals with days dedicated to different Saints so Saint Valentine’s Day received its present name after two Saint Valentines. Saints Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni were both martyred on the 14th February in the 1st Century. Some Scholars believe that they were the same person as historical records of this time have been proved to be inaccurate. According to Legend Saint Valentine was condemned to be executed following his habit of performing secret marriages for soldiers. Whilst imprisoned Valentine is supposed to have performed a miracle by healing his jailor’s daughter, before his execution he left a note for her signed with the now famous words “From your Valentine”.

During the Middle Ages when the idea of Romantic or Courtly Love became popular so Valentine’s Day increased in popularity. Shakespeare and Chaucer both mention it in their work. Handwritten Notes and Poems continued and increased in popularity over the years.

By the 1800’s various types of handmade Valentine’s Day Card were in existence; Acrostic Valentines (the first lines of the Poem’s verses spelt the beloved’s name), Cut-out Valentines (folded paper cut into a lacelike pattern using scissors), Pinprick Valentines (Lace effect created by pricking patterns of holes into paper using a pin), Theorem (or Poona) Valentines (an Oriental style of painting designs through stencils cut in oil paper), Rebus Valentines (simple pictures were used to represent some words), Puzzle Purse Valentines (folded paper on which verses were written within the folds to be read in a certain order) and Fraktur Valentines (written in a similar style to the Illuminated Manuscripts of the Middle Ages).

The mass produced Valentine’s Card as we know it came into existence in the 1840’s in America where it was created by the daughter of a Stationary shop/Bookstore owner, Esther Howland. This created a fashion for Valentine’s Day Cards decorated with feathers, gilt, lace and ribbons. Perfume was also used on the cards and mechanical Valentine’s Day Cards came into being, many coming from Holland and Germany.

Nowadays the printed Valentine’s Day Card is the most common way of expressing our love and affection to our Husband or Wife, Girlfriend or Boyfriend. Children, friends and even pets are now given Valentine’s Cards as a way of showing affection.

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February 6, 2008 - Posted by | Blogroll, Valentine

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