Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day…

Sending a note professing one’s love in hopes of the same in return is one of the oldest traditions of St. Valentine’s Day. The first ever St. Valentine’s letter is said to have been sent from the Duke of Orleans to his wife during his imprisonment in the Tower of London circa 1416. The oldest surviving Valentine was written by Margery Brews of Norfolk to her fiancé John Paxston circa 1477.

Writing poems professing one’s love continued as an English custom. It is said that King Henry VIII established February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day by royal decree in 1537. In 1830s England, as improvements in postal services and printing methods grew, so did the popularity of sending and receiving Valentine’s cards. So unprecedented were the number of cards the postmen had to deliver that they needed refreshments to enable them to complete their delivery.

In America the sending of Valentines didn’t truly become a tradition until the Civil War circa 1861-1866. Cards often depicted sweethearts parting as well as pictures of soldiers covered by flaps that opened to reveal the person of affection. By the 17th century it was commonplace for friends and lovers from all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection like hand-made cards, chocolates and small gifts on St. Valentine’s Day.


Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day 5:
Cards and Notes


Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

~ An Old Irish Blessing ~

Marian McCoy Boveri

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