Valentine cards – the legend and origin

As a writer of love stories, February 14th is one of my very favorite holidays. As a history buff, I love the legend and the origin of sending valentine cards. Valentines are the mirror of romance.

The LEGEND

A real priest who lived in 270 A.D., Saint Valentine provided Christians with sacraments outlawed by the Roman Empire such as marriage for soldiers forbidden to marry and baptism.

Around 498 A.D., Pope Gelasius honored Valentinus by declaring February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day. The day now appears in the calendar of saints in the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church.

Saint Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment, giving them to the soldiers and persecuted Christians to “remind them of God’s love and to encourage them to remain faithful Christians.”

That action, whether fable or real, began the custom of giving cards and reminders to loved ones on February 14.

THE ORIGIN

In spite of technology and ecards retail Valentine card sales continue to grow. It’s estimated that about 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are purchased each year.

Artist Esther Howland (1828–1904) was the first to publish and sell Valentine cards in the United States. Before Esther, the cards were hand made with paper, lace, and ribbons and handwritten poetry. The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester holds a large collection of her valentines.

Most Valentines were mass-produced by machine by the end of the 19th century. Creative people like my friend still send handmade cards.

If you read my blog often, you know I collect vintage holiday post cards. Here are my favorite Valentines. While not as elaborate, I love the way these cards speak of romance.

Valentines express our love to others. Will you send valentines to show someone you love them this Valentine’s Day?

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