History tells us that the very first Valentine card was sent by the 21-year-old Duke of Orleans while he was held prisoner at the Tower of London in 1415. It was written to his young wife, Bonne of Armagnac, but did not reach her before her untimely death.
What makes his poem the first Valentine? In it, he addressed her as “my very gentle Valentine.”
For the next 25 years he lived as a prisoner of war, albeit a very well-treated one, and wrote many more poems and love letters to his wife (presumably the news of her death did not reach him, or it only increased his ardor).
His original letter is in the British Library of London today.
The Tradition of Valentine’s Day Cards
Celebrating St. Valentine’s Day has meant many things over the years, from pagan festivals to feasts celebrating romantic love. But today the word “Valentine” is synonymous with a card.
Valentine’s Day is now the second largest card-sending holiday, according to the Greeting Card Association (Christmas still beats it with 2.6 billion cards). Are you surprised that women purchase approximately 85 percent of all Valentine’s Day cards?
In our subject of interest, there are a surprising number of flirtatious butcher cards from the mid-2oth century. Most of the butchers are young boys, indicating that these cards were intended for children.
From the sentimental cards of the past with cupids and flowers, we have segued into more sardonic and humorous cards today. And we found some entertaining Valentine’s Day greetings with food themes (mostly on Etsy) for you.
There’s love and then there’s true love. SurfariStudios on Etsy tells it like it is with this Valentine.
Charcuterie is a great punchline when it comes to love. This card by Jelligun is clever.
PowerandLight cuts right to the heart of the matter with this beef chart.
And an all-time favorite series of food Valentines at Saveur magazine includes this confit card. Click through to see them all.
Wishing you a very happy Valentine’s Day – we hope it is filled with love, laughter and good food.