Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day! This lovely card is a 1907 Valentine postcard. The early 1900's were the height of holiday postcards with creative designs and original sentiment. I love the delicacy of this one. Although the celebration of a day set aside for love goes all the way back to medieval church celebrations (as it seems, all holidays do) the Valentine greeting card made it's first appearance in England during the 1840's.

By 1847, Valentines as we know them had jumped the pond and were becoming a successful business for Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts. She is credited for being the first commercial producer of embossed paper lace. According to a Wikipedia article on Valentines, Her father operated a large book and stationery store, but Howland took her inspiration from an English valentine she had received.

Victorian era lover's embraced Valentine cards with the same over enthusiasm they did any other form of art and design, if a little decoration is good, lots more is lots better! They produced some truly magnificent, frothy designs with romantic imagery of doves, cupids, roses, the works. They had breathtaking pop-up cards that are often replicated today.

When I was in grade school, in the 1960's, it was a tradition to have Valentine's parties at school. The American idea of fairness demanded that every child get a Valentine, to avoid crushing little 7 year old spirits. I really disliked giving Valentines to pesky boys, but at least it gave me something to do with the Valentine cards I really didn't care for!

We had fun parties thanks to lucky stay at home Moms who volunteered to be Room Mothers. My own Mom was always a Room Mother, and she did make sure we had fun parties at school with pretty treats. One of the best parts in my memory of Valentine's Day was getting to turn an ordinary shoe box into a magnificent, gaudy, flashy Valentine mail box. Some kids, without shoe boxes, used milk cartons. It didn't matter, they were all things of beauty. I wonder if kids still do that, or has modern life run right over that little joy and kids now have pink plastic mailboxes? Or worse yet, no Valentine's day parties at all for some politically correct reason?

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