True Origins of the Valentine’s Day Card
It is a common tradition to give out cards to people you know and love for just about every single holiday. Whether it’s Christmas, Easter, birthdays, or even Halloween, we love to give cards to friends, family, and loved ones as a token of our love and appreciation. Of course, one of the most popular holidays for giving cards is Valentine’s Day. They actually have a long and storied history, which first began in the middle ages. Originally these valentines were written after the year 1400. By the 1500s, the written valentine became a widespread option in Europe for expression love for someone. The first recorded valentine was written by Charles Duke of Orleans in the year 1415. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and wrote beautiful poems for his wife who was in France.
In the 1700s, the idea of Valentine’s Day cards started to become much more commonplace, and it spread to America. They first began as booklets known as “writers” which were books of romantic verse from England. People could then reprint these verses and images onto small pieces of paper and give them to their lover as an expression of their feelings. The symbolism of flowers played an important role in Valentine’s Day as well. Many believed that the red rose was the Goddess Venus’ favorite flower, and so it was passed on as a symbol of love since she was the Roman goddess of love. A type of card known as “windows” were common during wartime. These cards had small paper windows, which opened up to reveal a picture of a bride and groom, turtledoves, hearts, flowers, and other beautiful symbolic items. While many cards were originally hand made, these “windows” were mass-produced.
In America in the 1840s, cards on tintype were popular and included an image or saying surrounded by some kind of decorative wreath. When the postal service became a standard, cards were then mailed to people through the “penny post.” This really helped to advance the popularity of Valentine’s Day cards. It was especially important during the Civil War, when soldiers would send Valentine’s cards to their wives from afar. Cards during the Victorian times were elaborate, and included lace, beautiful honeycombed tissue paper, watercolors, embossed paper, and even silk, satin, and dried flowers. The tradition of Valentine’s Day cards lives on, but the origins go back to a time when life was much different.