Do you remember when celebrating Valentine’s Day meant making cut out cards and sending them to your friends? Or going to buy a whole package of cards for your school class and teacher for thirty-nine cents? Do you remember saving to buy a sampler box of candy for your mom in hopes that she would share some with you? In our youth, this was just another holiday where we told as many friends and family members that we cared and loved them.
While European countries have celebrated Valentine’s Day for centuries, British settlers most probably imported it to North America in the 19th century. The first mass-produced valentines made of embossed paper lace were produced in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1847. The creator, Ester Howland, took her inspiration from an English card she received and her father sold her cards in his general store. Originally meant to be shared among one’s “true love”, by the early 20th century valentine cards were being exchanged among family members and soon afterward friends. The practice of exchanging cards was extending to all manner of gifts in the second half of the 20th century.
As we got older, somehow Valentine’s Day took on a different meaning, and the number of cards we sent grew smaller until there were only one or two that we purchased. Of course that was a good thing, as receiving these cards had a much deeper and stronger meaning to each of us. Yet thinking back over the years, I sometimes wonder if it would not have been better had we continued the innocence of youth regarding the number of friends and family members we made time to send valentine cards to. After all, if we can make that special person in our heart smile by just reminding them how much we care about them with a simple card on Valentine’s Day, why not double, triple or even quadruple that number by simply returning to what seemed so normal in our youth?
Therefore, please think of this as my Valentine’s Day Card to all of you, but more importantly, as a testament of the friendship we have developed over the years.
Happy St Valentine’s Day!