Valentine’s Day probably has its origins in the Roman feast of Lupercalia, which was held on February 15. One of the traditions associated with this feast was young men drawing the names of young women whom they would court during the following year–a custom that may have grown into the giving of valentine’s cards. Another legend associated with Valentine’s Day was the martyrdom of the Christian priest St. Valentine on February 14. The Roman emperor believed that men would remain soldiers longer if they were not married, but Valentine earned the wrath of the emperor by secretly marrying young couples. The first American publisher of valentines was printer and artist Esther Howland, who sold elaborate handmade cards for as much as $35 at the end of the 19th century. Complex and beautiful machine-made cards brought the custom of valentine exchanging within the reach of many Americans.
Image: Courtesy of My Scrap Album