Tag Archives: Valentines Day History

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Vintage Valentines, Part 2

More vintage valentines! (You didn’t think we were going to stop with Part 1, did you?)

Space Age Valentines

Transportation Valentines

Winter Valentines

 

Music Valentines

More Fun Valentines

 

More terrific vintage valentines can be seen at:

Vintage Valentine Museum

Seven Deadly Sinners

TipNut

Here’s how to make your own fun and easy homemade valentines.

Still want more? See my: Vintage Valentines, Part 1

Vintage Valentines, Part 1

Valentine’s Day, and the valentines we send to honor it, have an interesting past. Long before the Roman emperor Gelasius, and then the Catholic church, proclaimed February 14th a holy day named for the martyred St. Valentine (who refused to forsake Christianity while in prison and sent love letters signed “from your Valentine” to the jailer’s daughter), the Romans had their own mid-winter celebrations of love — Lupercalia fertility festivals, during which young Roman males sacrificed goats and frolicked in goatskin loincloths, striking young women with goatskin thongs. (Attractive!)

Early famous senders of valentines include Charles, Duke of Orleans (like St. Valentine, also in prison) and King Henry V. In the early 1700s, valentine “writers”, or booklets of decorative verse, were all the rage. In the 1800s, people favored “Daguerreotype” valentines, based on the new tintype photos. The Victorian era ushered in valentines that were more similar to the ones we know today, helped along by new methods of printing and mass production and  inexpensive “penny post” mailing.

This is a wonderful history of valentines and Valentine’s Day.

This is Charles, Duke of Orleans’ valentine, now in the British Museum.

Colorful, often mass-produced valentines really took off in the 1920s. Their popularity soared as children became increasingly involved in giving and receiving them. Some early valentines depicted household items, animals,  professions and new modes of transportation and many employed fun puns and wordplay. Their heyday occurred during a wide swath of mid-20th century, before valentines largely became the province of licensed characters from TV and movies.

I’ve rounded up some of my favorite valentines by theme.

Western Valentines

 

Food and Kitchen Valentines

 

More terrific vintage valentines can be seen at:

Vintage Valentine Museum

Seven Deadly Sinners

TipNut

Here’s how to make your own fun and easy homemade valentines.

Still want more? See my: Vintage Valentines, Part 2

Love in Nature and History

Regarding matters of love, I trust many of our animal friends, especially these sweet roseate spoonbills and other birds that mate for life. Then again, the natural world also features its share of preening and downright aggression — witness the hippo, who sprays his future mate with feces. Lovely!

Valentine’s Day has long taken various cues from nature. Long before the Roman emperor Gelasius, and then the Catholic church, proclaimed February 14th a holy day named for the martyred St. Valentine (who refused to forsake Christianity while in prison and sent love letters signed “from your Valentine” to the jailer’s daughter), the Romans celebrated mid-winter with Lupercalia fertility festivals, in which young Roman males sacrificed goats to Lupercal, the wolf deity, before frolicking in goatskin loincloths and striking young women with goatskin thongs. Geoffrey Chaucer and the poets of the Medieval era linked valentine symbolism to birds, and specifically lovebirds, whom they observed beginning their mating rituals in early spring.

Here are a few fun nature valentine links. Happy Day of Love!

Till Death Do Us Part: Birds that Mate for Life, Audubon Magazine

Love in the Wild: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Flickr Set

Bizarre Animal Mating Rituals, Science Discovery

How Seabirds Send Letters to their Mates, National Wildlife Federation

A Holiday for Real Animals, National Wildlife Federation

Valentine’s Day, a Holiday for the Birds, Audubon Magazine

Why is Love Related to the Heart-Shaped Symbol?, Aphrodite, Hub Pages

Hearts in Nature: A Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt, Slow Family Online

How Green is Your Love Life? Sierra Club Quiz

Photos: Roseate Spoonbill Courtship Dance, Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, FL, Michael Rosenbaum; Atlantic Puffins (who court in groups), David Ian Roberts; Swans, Unknown; Week-old black-footed ferret kits born at the National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center in WY, Kimberly Tamkun/USFWS; Cardinal Courtship, Howard Cheek; Lovebirds, Unknown; Sea Otters Holding Hands (to prevent drift while sleeping), Joe Mess.

Valentine’s Day history is mostly courtesy of the wonderful The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Seasonal Holidays, Anthony Aveni

How to Make: Fun and Easy Homemade Valentines

Since Roman times, people have celebrated a mid-February festival — once called Lupercalia and celebrating fertility, the holiday was changed by Pope Gelasius in 496 A.D. into a Christian feast day in honor of the Roman martyr Saint Valentine. Today, 25% of all cards sent in the U.S. per year are valentines.

And why not? In addition to proclaiming love, valentines can be lovely, bright, traditional, and endless in variety. As such, they make a wonderful craft for children, who can easily decorate large paper hearts with simple things found in grocery and craft stores and around your house.

You’ll need:

Construction paper in classic Valentine colors (red, pink, purple) — or not!

At least one good heart-shaped template, made of cardboard, that you can trace around to make valentine hearts. (Sometimes these can be found in craft stores.)

Scissors, regular and/or pinking edged

Glue, traditional and stick

Paper doilies that are slightly larger than the heart-shape

 

To decorate your valentine hearts, choose from:

Smaller doilies, either whole or cut
Commercial valentines, either whole or cut
Stickers (old-fashioned valentine or floral themes, or any of your choosing)
Small pom poms
Ribbon pieces
Small paper cups for candies or baked goods (available at specialty or grocery stores)
Small paper hearts
Feathers
Buttons
Beads
Tissue paper shreds
Crinkle cut paper
Pipe cleaners
Party napkins, whole or cut up
Felt hearts
Foam hearts and other shapes
Fabric scraps
Crepe paper pieces
Glitter
Markers, to write messages
Paint

The list is endless! We collect valentine items from year to year and store them away when not in use. Most of these things are available in craft and similar stores. Younger children, especially, seem to like the really tactile items like pom poms, feathers and candy cups.

It’s easy to host a small or large group to make valentines. Try putting each item in its own small bowl. Or have guests dress up or wear hats for a Valentines Tea that includes mini sandwiches and juice or tea in teacups. (Second-hand stores are a good source of old teacups.)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

You might also like:

Host a Valentine Tea Party

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