The Heart of the Matter: A History of Valentine Cards

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.