3 Victorian Valentine’s Day Traditions to Try This Year

by | Feb 14, 2020 | Blog, Family Parties, Weddings

Valentine’s Day can be traced back to the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which celebrated the coming spring (and fertility), but it was the Victorian’s who made it into the holiday we know today. 

In England, before the invention of the modern postal system, most Valentines were simple sheets of paper, folded and sealed with wax. That all changed in 1840 with the introduction of the Uniform Penny Post, which meant that Valentine’s Day cards could be sent through the mail for just one penny. By 1871, the General Post Office in London (UK) handled more than 1 million Valentines a year. Now that’s a lot of love!

The tradition of sending cards to a beloved caught on in Canada and the US in the 1860s, but it wasn’t until 1913 that Hallmark got in on the action. 

Today – in the age of swipes, snaps, texts, and tweets – sending a card through the mail may seem quaintly old-fashioned. But if you really want to make an impression on your Valentine, you might want to take a cue from the Victorians. 

Here are three of our favourite Valentine’s Day traditions that deserve to be back in style:

Send A Handmade Card

Before the introduction of mass-produced cards, Victorian lovers spent hours creating elaborate cards to declare their affection. Each was a piece of art, decorated with lace, ribbons, gold and silver foil appliques, and even dried flowers and seeds. 

You don’t have to have an art degree to create something meaningful. It’s the thought and effort that goes into sending a handmade card that counts!

Write a Personal Message

Sure, pre-written cards are more convenient. But do they ever really express what you feel?  If you want to make an impression on someone special, nothing beats a love letter, or even just a heartfelt note.

Feeling ambitious? Try a love poem! Here’s some Victorian inspiration to get you started: 

Think Beyond the Rose

In the Victorian era – when courtships were often covert – flowers were the language of love. Each bouquet carried a secret message that could be decoded depending on the type of flowers chosen, their colour, and even the number of blooms. 

And while red roses have long symbolized romantic love, they were not the Victorians first choice for Valentine’s Day. That honour went to the humble Violet – which, depending on the colour, represented innocence (white) or faithfulness (purple).

So this Valentine’s Day, if you want to stand out from the crowd, think beyond the standard long-stemmed roses, and gift your Valentine a bouquet with a personal touch.

Learn more about hosting your Curious about what Victorian life was like in London, Ontario? Come and visit our heritage properties – Grosvenor Lodge and Elise Perrin Williams Estate. We’ll even host your next conference or special event!