February 14 is Valentine’s Day in the Western liturgical calendar, commemorating one or more Valentines who were martyred in the Third Century.
Originally the feast day was not associated with romantic love. But the legends have embellished the festival, and by the 15th century, we have the first documented Valentine, written by the Duke of Orléans to his wife.
Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée…
The modern cliché Valentine’s Day poem can be found in the 1784 collection of English nursery rhymes.
The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou’d be you.
However it is Esther Howland (1828–1904) the entrepreneurial daughter of a stationery store owner in Worcester, Massachusetts, who is the real mother of Valentines Day, or at least Valentine cards, which has become a multi-million dollar business.
There is even an Esther Howland Award for Greeting Card Visionary. But apart from the first winner Marian Heath in 2001, I find no information about the award.
What I do find is information about are the LOUIE awards given to outstanding greeting cards, invitations, and stationery sponsored by the Greeting Card Association and presented at its annual Gala and Exhibition. These are the 2016 Valentine’s Day winners (under $3.50 and over $3.50 respectively.)