Valentines Deliver Love

You exchanged them with your classmates in grade school. You’ve given them to your mom. And you certainly expect to receive one from your significant other on February 14th. That’s because when it comes to expressing love and friendship, nothing says it better than a Valentine’s Day card!

Valentine’s Day is named after St. Valentine – the Catholic patron saint of love, young people and happy marriages. He’s believed to have been a Roman priest named Valentinus, who was jailed for his beliefs during the reign of Claudius II. Legend has it that, while in prison, Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer’s blind daughter. Then, on the eve of his execution, he wrote a farewell note to the jailer’s daughter and signed it, “From your Valentine.” Now that’s romantic! Around 498 A.D., Pope Gelasius honored Valentinus by declaring February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day.

A Long Tradition

Lovers have been sending handwritten valentines to one another since the Middle Ages. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The idea of exchanging valentines really caught on in Victorian-era England, however; and by the early 19th century, paper valentines with adornments such as lace and ribbons were being assembled in factories there.

It wasn’t long before the notion of sending valentines made its way across the Atlantic. In the mid-1800s, a Massachusetts-based printer and artist named Esther Howland was among the first to produce Valentine’s Day cards in America. Her elaborate designs included multiple layers, lift-up flaps and embossed flowers sure to impress their recipients.

Exchanging valentines has since become a deep-seated part of our American culture. Today, Valentine’s Day is the second most-popular card-sending occasion in the U.S. An estimated 114 million greeting cards will be exchanged for Valentine’s Day this year (source: Hallmark). That number doesn’t even include children’s packaged valentines – which adds many millions more to the number of valentines purchased.

Valentines Abound

Valentine’s Day cards are expected to be particularly popular this year, since a greater number tend to be exchanged when the holiday is celebrated during the week – as it will be this month with February 14 falling on a Tuesday.

And, there’s a valentine to please everyone – from contemporary designs for your BFF to traditional ones for Grandma. They’re affordable, too – ranging from 99¢ for a simply printed card to $9.99 or more for one with special treatments such as embossing, die-cutting, foil-printing, hand-detailing and/or light and sound enhancements. So, there’s no excuse not to give that special someone a Valentine’s Day card this year!