The American tradition of sending valentines originated with a young paper-obsessed and romance-loving woman from New England, suggests a new museum exhibit.
It was Esther Howland‘s vision and small business drive that heightened the prominence of Valentine's Day in the States and began the tradition of sharing beautiful cards to help mark the occasion.
Howland (1828-1904), a native of Worcester, Mass., graduated from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1847 and wondered what she'd do in life.
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Her inspiration came from an ornate English valentine sent to her by a family friend. She loved the look of it, along with its sentiment.
Howland's father owned the largest book and stationery store in Worcester, so she arranged with him to have valentine-making materials sent from England. The card giving tradition already had been established in England, along with other places in Europe - especially Germany. The materials she ordered included paper lace, floral decorations, colorful paper and more.