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Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Victorian Valentine's Day



As we munch our strawberries and chocolate and sip champagne while gazing at the sparkling diamonds bestowed upon us by adoring admirers, it’s fun to spend a moment thinking about how we got to this point.

The tradition of celebrating St. Valentine’s Day in England goes back over four centuries and is even mentioned by Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but modern valentines are largely a creation of the early Victorians. The reduction in postal rates in England in the early nineteenth century made paper valentines so popular they started being assembled in factories. Fancy ones included real ribbon and lace.

As with so many other fashionable Victorian customs, the celebration of Valentine’s Day quickly jumped the pond. The first commercial valentines in the U.S. were produced by Esther Howland in Massachusetts in 1847, and by 1849, a writer in Graham’s American Monthly wrote “St. Valentine’s Day…is becoming, nay it has become, a national holyday.”

Unfortunately for the heroine of my latest book, Harvest of Dreams, Valentine’s Day is pretty much like every other day. On February 14, 1866, young widow Lisa McAllister is cooped up inside her farmhouse in snowy western Missouri with a man who drives her crazy. No valentines. No candy. No champagne. How sad.
I invite you to stop by my website at http://www.alisonhenderson.com/ for more details about these two lovebirds, and have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

8 comments:

Kasey said...

Love, love, love stories about people being cooped up in houses with ornery men. Those are usually the best types--the ones where you can't escape the person no matter how crazy they drive you! Yawzeer! Can't wait! I'll be sure to check them out...and thanks for the bio about Valentines Day. I had no idea it started all the way back then. I had always thought it was a more recent addition as a national holiday. But I guess our ancestors had a lot of love to give too. Happy V-Day!

Kasey
mharris299@gmail.com

Julie Lynn Hayes said...

Sounds like a great premise, love how you set it in Missouri :)

As Halloween has roots in Samhain, and Christmas in another pagan fest (which I forget) so does Valentine's Day owen a nod to Lupercalia.

Great blog and best wishes for your new books!

Terra Pennington said...

Great history lesson and nice web sit need to add your new book to my list just to see if how the two lovebirds get along. Sound like a really good read

LoRee Peery said...

I love Victorian valentines -- they mean so much more in presentation than what we see in today's market. Good post.

Linda Banche said...

I hope your heroine received a beautiful valentine like the one in your post from the hero.

Jean P said...

Interesting to hear about Valentine's Day traditions. Your book sounds really good, adding it to my list.

skpetal at hotmail dot com

Kasey said...

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!


mharris299@gmail.com

Maria Zannini said...

Wow. I never realized Valentine's went back so far.