The advent of the Internet has put quite a damper on Valentines Day in some parts of the world. Gone is the eager anticipation of looking forward to the arrival of the postman on 14 February. It was always possible that a Valentine card be included in the morning post. The cards were most often anonymous. For instance, sent by ‘an admirer’, thus leaving one guessing who might have originated it. Emails are not at all the same thing.
Legend of valentines day
According to legend, Saint Valentine of Rome (there are Saint Valentines in other countries) became a martyr in 269 for ministering to Christians during the Roman period. He was also said to have restored the sight of the blind daughter of his jailer. In his letter of farewell to the girl he signed himself ‘Your Valentine’.
An early reference to Valentines Day appears in a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1382. In “Parlement of Foules” he wrote ‘For this was on seynt Volantynys day, When every byrd cometh there to chese his mate.’ This was a reference to the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia in 1381. Another early citation is that of an English lady to her fiancé in 1477, naming him as ‘my right wele-belovyd Voluntyn’.
Romantic love on valentines day
Valentines Day is notable as being a celebration of romantic love. The tradition flourished throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Indeed, in his famous Diary, Samuel Pepys describes Valentine tokens. Moreover, the tradition of courtly love continued into the early seventeenth century. For instance, Shakespeare made a reference to romantic love in “Hamlet”. when Ophelia mentioned ‘tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s Day…’
Meanwhile, in America, German immigrants introduced intricate designs and lettering for giving to loved ones on Valentine’s Day. By 1834 card making continued to improve and open-work ‘lace’ paper developed. Specifically, there were many beautiful cards finished by hand, decorated with lace and ribbons. Nowadays, it is estimated that about 190 million cards are sent each year.
The Industrial Revolution
With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, however, people spent less time making cards. In fact, printed cards became the norm throughout the nineteenth century, as well as booklets devoted to Valentine’s Day. With the birth of the Penny Post in 1840 thousands of cards were despatched.
Considered a Christian tradition, in countries where the Islamic religion dominates a ban has been placed on Valentine’s Day. Among these countries are Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and some districts of India. As a result, ignoring the ban could lead to severe punishment by the authorities.
To conclude: Collectors can find many vintage Valentine cards online at reasonable prices.