Next Sunday will be Valentine’s Day.

You may feel the greeting card companies, jewelers, and florist have forced the holiday upon us. The day has certainly been commercialized. Consumers are predicted to spend close to nineteen billion dollars this year.

As a romance writer, I prefer to believe we celebrate the day because we value what a day emphasizing love and romance can do for relationships. Having such a special day focused on love and loved ones provides the opportunity to:

~ ignite new relationships with romantic gestures
~renew an old love gone stale with a dose of romance

Many of us use valentines to express our feelings. That’s why I say, valentines are the mirrors of romance.

Supposedly, Saint Valentine began the valentine practice when he 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.” He’s the saint that defied Emperor Claudius’ edict forbidding priests to marry couples and ended up in prison. A prison guard’s daughter formed a friendship with Valentine and on the day he was martyred he left her a note signed, “Love from your Valentine.”

Source: valentines begin appearing in the 1840s. Esther A. Howland is considered the Mother of Valentines in America. Inspired by an English Valentine she received, she created elaborate cards from scraps of real lace, ribbons, and colorful pictures.

You’ll find a large collection of her valentines in The American Antiquarian Society in Worcester.

Postcards with romantic scenes and messages were also popular in the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, the tradition of sending Valentine postcards died as the use of postcards for personal correspondence faded.

These are samples from my collection of vintage holiday postcards. valentine postcards

A modern day variation of postcards is found in the cute valentines schoolchildren share on Valentines’ Day.

In my opinion, of all the commercial choices of valentines, the homemade ones are the most special.

YOUR TURN: Will send a valentine to your sweetheart this year?