I’m in a Valentine’s Day mood today, though it isn’t a holiday I grew up with. Here in New Zealand, sales of Valentine cards and gifts have picked up in the past couple of decades thanks to American television, but when I was a young lover, we barely gave the day a nod, though any excuse for a kiss was a good excuse.
But I’m celebrating the release of a Valentine box set, a collection of five historical novellas centred around a Valentines’ Day Ball in 1815 Bath, England, so I’ve been researching and thinking about this holiday for at around eight months.
I’m in the mood to do something special with my lover, my darling personal romantic hero, tomorrow. Steak for dinner, a glass of champagne, and who knows?
The oldest surviving Valentine is a bit of a sad story. After the Battle of Agincourt, the 21 year old Duke of Orleans was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he stayed for 24 years.
He wrote a letter to his young wife (she would have been 15 at the time), which is shown in the image above — a poem for Valentine’s Day. Here it is.
Je suis desja d’amour tanné,
Bien m’estoye suspeconné,
I am already sick of love,
Well might I have suspected
Of course, in our stories, the endings are much happier. I found this lovely Valentines advertisement in an 1819 newspaper in England. I wonder if the lady responded? I think there’s a story here, don’t you?People mostly made their own Valentines until the 1850s, when an American entrepreneur, a lady called Ester A. Howland began mass producing cards. Here are a couple of others from Victorian times.
And I just can’t resist leaving you with this one. What goes one step worse than being dumped by text? Being dumped by Valentines’ Day card!