Valentine’s Day Cards of Yore …

Valentine-MaxineToday is February 14th, otherwise known as Valentine’s Day.  In modern culture it is a day for romance, for flowers, cards, candy hearts and chocolates.   Even this ol’ hag awoke to a lovely card in my inbox this morning that started my day with a smile.  But throughout history, Valentine’s cards have sometimes taken a dark turn …

In the mid-1400s, Charles Valois, the Duke of Orleans, penned a Valentine poem for his wife. Considered to be one of the earliest Valentine’s poems, Valois’s missive is far from an ardent declaration of marital passion. Instead, the sombre wording reveals a 21-year-old who is already ‘sick of love’.

I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine,
Since for me you were born too soon,
And I for you was born too late.
God forgives him who has estranged
Me from you for the whole year.
I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine.

Why such a bleak tone on a day intended to celebrate love? The circumstances in which the verse was penned may shed some light on Charles’s sense of desperation. Having already lost one wife, Valois was still only 15 when he married 11-year-old Bonne D’Armagnac in 1410. Their time together was short-lived: Charles was captured by the English at the battle of Agincourt in 1415 and held captive for 25 years. The above verse was penned during a period of imprisonment in the Tower of London. Alone in a cell, having outlived one wife and been involuntarily separated from another, Valois’s solemnity might be excused.

The unfortunate pair were never reunited: Bonne had died by the time her husband was released. This fascinating letter is held in the manuscript collections at the British Library, though sadly there is no record of any reply.

While it was common practice to exchange letters and love tokens in February, the first ‘cards’ were not sent until the late 18th century. Lack of technology meant that early cards were handmade, with lovers decorating paper with flowers and romantic symbols. Pamphlets were available designed to assist those who struggled to express themselves. The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, published in 1797, offered a selection of poems that could be copied out and sent to the beloved.

In Britain, the oldest surviving Valentines card is thought to date from 1790. The recipient had to work to discover their valentine: the card was a puzzle that had to be unfolded in a particular way in order to reveal delicate illustrations and the verse hidden within. Known as a ‘puzzle purse’, this unusual example is among a collection of 800 Valentines held in the archives of the Postal Museum’s archives.

puzzle purse.png

A ‘puzzle purse’, a popular type of card from the Georgian period that had to be unfolded in a particular way to reveal the hidden verse within. 

The sending of cards became more common during the Victorian era, with the development of new printing techniques and reductions in the cost of paper. Handmade efforts, often featuring lace paperwork, flowers and love knots, continued to exist while mass-produced cards flooded the market.

I think I might be a little offput to receive this handmade Valentine containing a taxidermy canary …Stuffed-canary-Valentine

Then there were the ‘Vinegar Valentines’: cards designed to point out faults in the recipient and demonstrate the sender’s desire not to claim their love. Although the nature of the card often lent itself to its immediate destruction, sufficient numbers survive to suggest that Vinegar Valentines were not gender specific.

vinegar-valentine

An 1870s “vinegar Valentine”, the sender Repelled by his “glitter”, the sender rejects the snakelike gentleman, preferring to remain alone than live a “bitter” life in his company.

Some cards offered women the opportunity to comment anonymously on personal appearance, with scathing words and demeaning sketches. Others, commenting on the recipient’s habits, reflect societal concerns of the day.

Valentine's Card

The text at the bottom reads: “The kiss of the bottle is your heart’s delight,/ And fuddled you reel home to bed every night,/ What care you for damsels, no matter how fair!/ Apart from your liquor, you’ve no love to spare.”

Valentine's Card

“Pray do you ever mend your clothes/ Or comb your hair? Well, I suppose/ You’ve got no time, for people, say,/ You’re reading novels all the day.”

The Valentine card traveled across the Atlantic during the 19th century, but printed cards were often too expensive for the average American. Things changed dramatically in 1913, when the Hall Brothers produced their first Valentine card. Becoming Hallmark cards in 1928, the company is now considered a key player in the commercialization of Valentine’s Day with more than 1,400 varieties of card now in circulation.

Despite popular belief, not all 20th-century cards featured the romantic symbolism we see today. Some cards employed fruit or animals to suggest lewd intentions, and others were used as marketing opportunities by Walt Disney and McDonald’s.

Not all cards were so benign. Overtly racist cards depicted cannibals preparing their loved ones for the pot, claiming to be “all a stew for you”, while others played with cowboy imagery to suggest the recipient’s capture.  And then there was the truly macabre …valentine-card-skunk

I hope you all have a fun Valentine’s Day!  To all my friends, I wish you a …Happy Valentine's Day

A Jolly Cold Monday …

Good Monday morning, friends!  Come on in … don’t worry about tracking snow in … Jolly will sweep it up in a minute.  Did you all have a wonderful weekend?  Mine?  Oh, well, since it stayed well below freezing all weekend, and since I’m still doing battle with a respiratory ‘thing’, I stayed in all weekend, but I did get to spend some time reading and sleeping, so that was nice.  I’ve simply got to get some energy back this week, for as you can see, we still have Christmas lights and decorations up in the living room.  I managed to ‘un-decorate’ the rest of the house, but the living room is still pretty Christmas-y.  I gave some thought to just leaving them up, since we’re already a month-and-a-half through the year, but no … they must come down this week!

Grab a snack and a cup of java or tea, and let’s see if we can find something to help us start the week out with a smile, shall we?

juice boxtea-2coffee-many-cups


Coca-Cola is rolling out a new flavour for the first time in over a decade.  I don’t drink soft drinks more than three or four times a year, but I’m likely to try this one … Orange-Vanilla. orange-vanilla-cokeThe company also considered raspberry, and lemon-ginger, but after a test run of the orange-vanilla in Canada proved successful, they chose that.  Said a company spokesperson …

“We wanted to bring back positive memories of carefree summer days. That’s why we leaned into the orange-vanilla flavor combination — which is reminiscent of the creamy orange popsicles we grew up loving, but in a classically Coke way.”

It will be in stores on Monday, February 25th, so mark your calendars!  And if you try it, let me know what you think.


Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but … I find the concept of online dating services to be just a bit creepy.  First, it seems to me an act of desperation.  Second, I’m leery of strangers, especially in this day and age.  But even with that said, this next story is just about beyond weird in my opinion.

Samsung has rolled out a new ‘dating app’ with a unique twist.  Instead of seeing a picture of the person they are trying to hook you up with, you see a picture of the inside of their refrigerator!  According to Samsung’s website

refrigerdaterDating where the inside is all that counts

Refrigerdating is a service that helps you to find love based on the content of your fridge. By uploading an image of your food, you can get in contact with others who have realized that you are what you eat!

Thanks, but no thanks.  And anyway, if I uploaded a picture of the inside of my fridge, anybody with an ounce of sense would run in the other direction very quickly!


You’ve all heard the expression, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”?  Well, David Aguilar, who is studying bioengineering at Barcelona’s International University of Catalonia, proves that to be true.  Born with only one arm, David combined his love of building with Lego blocks and his need for a second arm, and … well, watch him show you what he has done …

Pretty awesome problem-solving skills, wouldn’t you say!  I love the “can-do” attitude!


I came across a few funny meme’s on a friend’s Facebook page and decided to snag them to share with you this morning …

funny-meme

sign-1

spider-meme


By the way … before I forget!  Thursday is Valentine’s Day, so if there’s someone special in your heart, don’t forget to send a card, or just call and say, “Hey … I love you!”  You don’t have to spend a lot of money on flowers or jewelry … a card will mean just as much.Valentines


And finally … what’s not to love about these adorable Red Pandas?


jollyI hope you’ve found something to bring a smile to your face this morning, and that you’ll share those smiles with those who need them most.  Keep safe & warm, and have a great week, my friends!  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa & Jolly!

No Politics Monday #2

Welcome once again to “No-Politics Monday”.  I have decided to make this a weekly tradition, as the one I did last Monday seemed to make a few people happy, and as I said last week, Mondays are hard enough already.  So every Monday I will abstain from my usual socio-political commentary and attempt to find more light-hearted, upbeat topics.  Mondays only, though!

Saturday night the time changed here in the U.S.  Clocks went forward by an hour … yes, a whole 60 minutes … whether we wanted them to or not.  I awakened yesterday morning with a headache, so I have decided that I will not participate in daylight savings time all at once, but shall accept the time change in increments of ten minutes per day for six days, starting today (Monday).  Therefore, dinner will be served at 7:50 p.m. tonight, 7:40 p.m. on Tuesday, and so on until finally on Saturday we will be back to eating at 7:00.  Apologies to my family for rumbly tummies or other inconveniences, but I simply cannot lose the entire hour at once.

I came across a few bits of interesting trivia this morning:

  • That lovely red condiment, ketchup, that which makes most any food palatable, is banned in primary school cafeterias in France. Not for any health reasons, but rather because “We have to ensure that children become familiar with French recipes so that they can hand them down to the following generation,” implying that ketchup is in some way ruining French cuisine,” according to the chairman of the National Association of Directors of Collective Restaurants. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/8806553/The-French-have-some-sauce-to-ban-tomato-ketchup.html
  • I bet there are a lot of parents in the U.S., especially in the month of December, who wish we could adopt this Swedish law: television advertisements that are specifically directed at children under the age of 12 have been banned in Sweden since 1991. At the time, research showed that children could not clearly differentiate between advertising and regular programming until this age. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0529-05.htm
  • Last month I told you my feelings about Valentine’s Day, so imagine my goofy grin when I found out the Valentine’s Day is, in fact, banned in Saudi Arabia! But not for the reason you might think … it is banned because, although it no longer has a religious connotation, it began as a Christian holiday, and Saudi Arabia is an Islamic nation.  Saudi Arabia actually bans Valentine’s Day and actively prevents celebration by raiding and confiscating any floral arrangements, chocolates, or gifts for sale in mid-February that may be seen as symbols of love. http://worldnews.about.com/od/saudiarabia/qt/vdaysaudis.htm
  • Do you chew gum? I don’t, have not since before I was a teenager with braces many years ago, but if you do chew gum, you may want to avoid Singapore on your next trip to Asia.  Chewing gum has been banned there since 1992 in an effort to make the country more sanitary and progressive, as the habit was seen as old-fashioned and disgusting.  I can’t say that I disagree with them, especially the way some people chew gum! http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32090420
  • Want to name your child “Bailey”, or “Lee”, or some other name that could be suitable for either a boy or a girl? Not in Germany!  In Germany a person’s first name must clearly indicate their gender. This means that babies cannot be named unisex names (i.e. Sam, Alex), names for the opposite gender (i.e. naming a girl Robert), or last names (i.e. Anderson, Emerson). If you want to challenge one of these rules you must go through a lengthy and expensive appeals process wherein a government office will evaluate your chosen name and it’s suitability. Other countries also have laws regulating what you may name your baby … be sure to check out the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/24/banned-baby-names_n_5134075.html

Just a few days ago, I updated my October 2014 piece about driverless cars, then yesterday I came across this snippet and just couldn’t resist passing it along:

Spend enough time behind the wheel, and chances are you’re going to see some pretty wild things — if you work for Google, at least.

One time, an onlooker was so excited to see one of the company’s self-driving cars pass by that he ran out onto the street completely naked and leaped onto the vehicle.

Another time, the car had to slow down because there were as many as three other cars driving the wrong way up the street toward it.

There was the time a group of people hopped across the street in front of a Google car, interrupting its route with a real-life game of Frogger.

And then there was the mysterious case of a woman in an electric wheelchair chasing a duck in circles in the middle of the street.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2016/03/12/the-time-a-naked-man-greeted-googles-driverless-car-and-other-completely-true-stories/?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-technology%3Ahomepage%2Fcard

So, that wraps up my non-political Monday.  I leave you with this from Calvin & Hobbes, arguably the best cartoon strip ever written:

calvin-hobbes1

Filosofa, the Anti-Valentine

You know it is February when you see red, heart-shaped boxes of candy all over every store you are in, even the local bookstore!  You know it is February when advertisements for florists, chocolatiers, and greeting cards are in your face everywhere you go in both the real and virtual world.  The reason?  It is called Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day is what I refer to as a “faux holiday”, but there is nothing faux about the $19 billion that will be spent for candy, flowers, cards, jewelry, etc.  Why do people go gaga over Valentine’s Day?

  • One-quarter of men spend because they feel obligated or are just trying to get lucky. According to a recent poll, roughly half of men say they celebrate Valentine’s Day in order to “spend quality time with my partner.” (What, you can’t spend time with her without bringing flowers? You need a new partner!) However, nearly one-quarter of men admit that they mark Valentine’s Day out of a sense of obligation or “because they’re hoping to get lucky.” Meanwhile, 13% of women say they celebrate just “because everyone else does.”
  • The longer the relationship, and the older you get, the less you spend. Love may or may not fade over time, but the likelihood of going all out on Valentine’s gifts sure seems to die the longer couples are together. One poll shows that men spend an average of $154 on fiancés, versus $136 for wives.
  • Americans will spend more than $700 million on Valentine’s gifts … for pets. That’s according to the National Retail Federation. And that’s roughly double what we spend on Halloween costumes for pets, which is probably good—surely your dog prefers a Valentine’s snack to being dressed up in a ludicrous Madonna outfit.
  • 1 in 5 women buy Valentine’s gifts … for themselves. Data cited by the Society of American Florists indicates that while men are more likely to buy Valentine’s gifts for their spouses—63% of men versus 30% of women—the ladies are more inclined to buy for their moms (30% versus 11% of men), friends (19% versus 7%) and themselves (19% versus 1%).
  • Rose prices spike just in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s not just your imagination. Roses really do get more expensive around February 14. While wholesale prices vary depending on location, florists say they typically pay twice as much for roses in early February than they do at most other times of the year. It boils down to supply and demand: Roses cost more for Valentine’s Day because people are willing to pay more. (Filosofa’s favourite flower is the dandelion … they grow wild and free!)
  • The two people most responsible for modern-day Valentine’s Day were entrepreneurs trying to make a buck. For centuries, Valentine’s Day was a mashup of a wild Roman pagan festival known as Lupercalia and the celebration of two Catholic saints (both named Valentine) who were executed on February 14. By the Middle Ages, it had become somewhat of a tradition to offer a handmade card or flowers to one’s beloved. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s, however, that it became popular to give mass-produced chocolates and Valentine’s messages, and we have two business-minded visionaries to thank for this. First, there’s Richard Cadbury, a member of the famous chocolate-making family that been perfecting the bite-sized delectable then known as “eating chocolate.” Cadbury had the brilliant idea of packaging and selling these chocolates in heart-shaped boxes for Valentine’s Day, and the rest is history.  Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, a Massachusetts woman named Esther Howland was building her reputation as the “Mother of the American Valentine” for designing and popularizing high-quality lace-paper Valentine cards featuring messages of love and devotion.

grump_valentine

Now seriously, folks, people complain about inflation, the economy, fuel prices, food prices, taxes, and the like, but they are willing to spend upward of $100 for a Valentine’s Day gift?  Personally, I can feed my family for a week, buy cigarettes for two weeks, buy four Christmas gifts, or buy ten books for this amount!  And personally, I just don’t find a heart-shaped box of candy or roses to be all that romantic.  Now granted, I am not a romantic person … I know this.  I am a pragmatist.  However, I do have what passes for a romantic side, but do you want to know what I think is romantic?  A phone call just to say “Hi, I was thinking of you and just wanted to see how your day is going.”  Cleaning the snow from my car without being asked.  A pat on the head.  There are so many other (read less expensive) ways to show love, that to spend so much money on flowers that will die within a few days or chocolates that will be consumed within a few hours just seems ridiculous to me.  For anyone interested in the history of Valentine’s Day … http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day.

By the way, February 16th is “Do a Grouch a Favour Day”!  If anyone would like to come re-vent my clothes dryer, shampoo my carpet, vacuum my stairs, or clean out my storage shed …