Valentine’s Day cards are one of the special attractions for the day. The cards embody a wide range of emotions- humorous whimsical, humorous, charming, ornate, romantic, sensitive, and many more. Cards for Valentine’s Day can be sent or given to anyone and everyone whether they are lovers, friends, or family members.
The tradition of Valentine’s greeting cards dates back to the Middle Ages. It began with Charles, Duke of Orleans in 1415, who addressed a poem to his beloved spouse while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London after the battle of Agincourt. The greeting card is a special memoir and a part of the manuscript collection in the British Library. By the sixteenth century, the tradition of Valentine’s Day greeting cards gained momentum. Handwritten cards were intricately decorated with laces, silk or satin, flowers, gold leaf or even perfumed sachets. Colored paper and watercolors were amongst the essential elements used to create the card.
The tradition of exchanging printed cards for Valentine’s Day came into prominence as a consequence of the printing press and less expensive postage rates. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions at a time when subtle emotions were the order of the day and direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Paper Valentine cards were very popular in England. Manufactured cards with images of Cupid and hearts were on sale by the end of the nineteenth century.
In USA, Greeting cards for Valentine’s Day began in 1840s, with Esther A. Howland who sold the first Valentine’s Day Cards, produced on a mass scale in America. Ever since, the exchange of cards has continued as an extremely popular ritual on this day. According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion Valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. This reiterates the significance of the day in the lives of Americans.
The most common one liner in these cards is “Be My Valentine.” A Valentine is a person singled out especially as one’s sweetheart on Saint Valentine’s Day. Not only confined to soul mates, Valentine’s Day cards have become an important occasion to send cards to good friends, family, relatives, teachers, students, and other social relations as a symbolic gesture of love, respect, and admiration.
In the age of electronic greetings there has been a revival of a fascination for handmade Valentine’s Day e-cards. Whatever the form maybe, a unique, sentimental handmade card, an e-card with a personalized message, or a printed card, it is the message that the card carries that remains unaltered through the ages.