Saint Valentine was a 3rd century Roman saint who is traditionally honored on February 14 as the patron saint of lovers. He was imprisoned for performing marriages against the wishes of Emperor Claudius. He eventually died as a martyr on February 14.
Valentine’s Day has been celebrated for centuries, but the tradition of sending cards and gifts to loved ones on this day only began 250 years ago. The oldest known valentine card is a hand-written love letter from the 15th century. Since then, giving valentine cards and gifts has become an integral part of the celebrations.
The modern Valentine’s Day card is believed to have been invented by Charles, the Duke of Orleans. He was a French nobleman who was being held in the Tower of London when his wife sent him a romantic poem on St. Valentine’s Day. He responded with a love letter, written on a sheet of parchment and decorated with flowers, hearts, cupids and lovers. The world’s first Valentine’s Day card!
In the mid-19th century, a British businessman, William Price, started mass-producing cards. He printed sentimental verse on the cards and decorated them with lace and ribbons. Price sold these cards for up to 6 shillings each and made Valentine’s Day cards a popular custom.
The tradition of sending cards and small gifts as tokens of love and affection spread to the United States in the 1840s. One of the first manufacturers of mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards in the US was Esther A. Howland. As the popularity of Valentine’s Day cards grew, so did the range of styles and designs. Today’s cards come in many different shapes and sizes, with endless designs from comics to classic love letters to music.
Valentine’s Day is still celebrated all over the world as a day of love and friendship. People exchange cards, gifts, and heartfelt messages to remind them of the true meaning of love.