Posted on: March 4, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Carolyn Thill
COM 151 Student

Since on this ever Happy Day
All nature’s full of Love and Play
Yet harmless still if my design
Tis but to be your Valentine.

Many people today have a cynical belief that St. Valentine’s Day is just another Hallmark Holiday; as if Hallmark made up this day to increase sales beyond the annual mail exchange of Christmas Cards.  Much knowledge has been lost in time regarding the history behind the infamous Valentine card.   Contrary to popular opinion, Hallmark was not the predecessor.
Evidence implies the first Valentine’s Day card was sent during the 18th century.  Lovers would hand make the cards using various materials and sometimes included puzzles with their poetry.  The cards were then secretly slipped under the door or tied to a doorknocker.
The above poem dates back to 1797, which is found on a card that is perhaps the oldest surviving example of a Valentine Card held on display at York Castle Museum in London.  It was sent by Catherine Mossday to Mr. Brown.  The card was decorated with flowers and images of cupid, and had the verse you read above- printed around the card as a border.  When Britain became industrialized in the 19th Century, there were major advances in printing and manufacturing.  Mass production of Valentine Cards became much easier.  By 1840, over 200,000 cards were circulated, doubling in the next two decades.
Here’s a bit of history not too many are familiar with.  Not all Valentine cards were intended to those fancied by another.  In the late Victorian Era, between 1840’s-1940’s, the less admired would pass out cards known as Vinegar Valentine’s.  These cards were designed to insult.  They were made of cheap paper and sometimes referred to as ‘Penny Dreadfuls’, as they often costed only a penny.  They consisted of a caricature and included an insulting poem.  Not many who received these were pleased, to say the least, which could explain why very few examples survived.
Other unconventional cards include a more humorous effort for those less fixated on romance.  This entailed the creation of cards that included human hair attached to it in the shape of a mustache.  Written to the lady was a verse pertaining to the hopes that this Valentine’s day would bring a mustache, with a man behind it of course.  It wasn’t until 1913 that Hallmark Cards produced their first Valentine’s Card.  It is not clear when the passing of classroom valentines became popular.  
Since then, celebrating Valentine’s Day has grown throughout the years and retail has gone overboard in exploiting it.  This type of commercialism can be a bit overwhelming to the average consumer.  Nevertheless, we have to be cognizant that today’s technology and economy are stronger than centuries ago.  Therefore, this is what retail does.  Around every corner is an over enthusiastic salesperson waiting to dig into our wallets on any given day.  We need to remind ourselves ‘why’ we celebrate anything that is meaningful to us.  Life is short; therefore, rather than feeling ambushed by market frenzies, why not associate romance with a loving gesture.  Pull out some construction paper, glue on a bit of ribbon and lace, toss on a dash of glitter, add in a spritz of perfume (or cologne), write in a poem or apply a happy photo, sign with Happy Valentine’s Day, and slip it under the door of one whom you admire.   Just remember, there is no price tag on love.  A beating heart and a creative mind, is all you need for your valentine!   

Carolyn Thill can be contacted at