Today, Valentine’s Day is a holiday to give cards and small gifts to the people you care about the most. What was once the day for lovers now includes parents, children, close friends and extended family.
When was the start of our modern Valentine traditions? Like most holidays, it started with the Victorians.
The first commercially produced Valentines were made in the 1830s in Britain and the 1840s in the United States. Prior to this, they were homemade. The first cards were elaborately decorated with lace, hearts, cupids and ribbons. As time went on, they became even more elaborate and included fabric flowers, glazed paper, mirrors, envelopes and trinkets.
They were given to a person’s sweetheart, and because they could be sent through the mail, they also could be sent anonymously. This meant that some cards contained racy prose.
By the end of the century, the best Valentine cards cost as much as $25. They were decorated in fringe, paper cutouts, feathers, beads, seeds and tinsel. They could even include wax flowers and glass. Highly elaborate cards fell out of favor by the early 20th century.
The new century brought about similar card designs and new innovations. This is when standup cards, pull tabs and layers of honeycomb were introduced.
The tradition of giving flowers, chocolates and other gifts came later in the century.
Early 20th Century Valentines
The following are examples of early 20th century Valentines.
How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Leave a comment below.
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