Valentine’s Day Explained: Why We Give Valentine Cards
Another holiday, another round of traditions that amount to us going through the motions without wondering why. So here I am with another "Explained" series.
First up, why in the world do we send those sappy cards?
The tradition goes back to the middle ages. You know, those fun and wacky middle ages in Europe.
The earliest known Valentine's greeting, or card, is believed to have been sent in 1477, way before any of our favorite cartoon characters existed.
In it, Margery Brews wrote that John Paston was her "right well-beloved Valentine." Doesn't it make your heart melt?
It would take a few hundred years, but eventually, the idea of sending your special someone a special message on Valentine's Day caught on, usually with a religious or poetic verse written on it. It's thought that the Victorian-era is when the special Valentine's "papers" started being marketed.
The tradition got another boost in the 1800s with postage rates becoming something the average person could afford. By the late 19th century, Valentine's Day cards started being mass-produced.
The rest is mass-marketed, pain-in-a-parents-butt, history.
The cards we have today are a lot different. I don't remember seeing religious and poetic verses on my Scooby-Doo Valentine's cards as a kid.
My all-time favorite Valentine is the one from the Simpsons that Lisa gives to Ralph because he didn't get one. It's hard to imagine someone in the middle ages writing, "I choo-choo-choose you."