Valentine’s Day traces its roots back to the ancient Roman fertility festival, Lupercalia, and to legends about St. Valentine, a 3rd century A.D. priest executed for continuing to wed couples despite a prohibition on marriage. In the centuries since then, lovers, friends, and sometimes even foes have exchanged valentine cards. From handmade cards and messages to commercially-printed tokens of affection, Valentine’s Day has prompted the expression of romantic emotions, as may be expected, but has also generated a surprising number of humorous and even derogatory cards.
The Strong’s The Heart of the Matter: A History of Valentine Cards draws from the hundreds of valentines in the museum’s collections and from books in the holdings of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play.
Click on the image below to explore some of the ways valentine cards have evolved through the years and even while they have continued to provide creative ways to express feelings.