Susanne Burchett has hundreds of Valentine cards, and she treasures each one.
"They're all family valentines - they're not something I bought at an antique store," said Burchett, 59, of Beverly. "They were cherished by people before me, and they were saved and handed down."
"They tell a story of a different time," she added. "They give me a great deal of pleasure."
Burchett has collected Valentines that once belonged to her parents, her grandmother and her great-aunt. She also has Valentines she received when she was a youngster.
She said her grandmother's and great-aunt's cards probably date back to the early 1900s, while her parents' are from the 1930s and 1940s. Her own cards are from the 1960s, and she also has a few cards that she estimates are from the 1800s, but she's not sure to whom they belonged.
The mass-produced Valentine cards that are on store shelves today are far different than the valentine cards that folks once exchanged.
If you go
What: The Castle's Victorian Valentine Workshop.
Where: 418 Fourth St., Marietta.
When: 10 a.m. to noon or 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday.
Cost: $8.50 per person, all materials included.
Valentine's Day cards
Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s.
In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America.
Approximately 141 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine's Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas.
More than 50 percent of all Valentine's Day cards are purchased in the six days prior to the observance.
Approximately 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women.
In fact, the earliest Valentine cards were handmade and meant specifically for that special someone.
"The ones I got from the earliest generation were more for adults, and then mine were all little sets you bought for children and even my parents' were sets bought for children, whereas the older ones were for a sweetheart," Burchett said, noting that the older valentines were also larger in size.
According to the History Channel website, www.history.com, one legend indicates that Valentine was a priest who served in Rome during the third century. He secretly performed marriages for couples, even after Emperor Claudius II made it illegal for young men to get married because he felt single men made better soldiers.
When Cladius learned what Valentine was doing, he demanded that he be killed. It
is thought that while he was in prison, Valentine was the first to send a "Valentine" greeting. He sent it to a young girl he fell in love with and signed it, "from your Valentine."
The website indicates Americans began exchanging handmade valentines in the early 1700s. Mass-produced valentines were first sold in America in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland, the "Mother of the Valentine." She made them using real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures called scrap.
Now, approximately 141 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged each year, making it the second-most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas.
The history of the Valentine's Day card will be shared Saturday during The Castle's Victorian Valentine Workshop. This is the 10th year for the event, according to Jessica Goodnite,
media coordinator for The Castle, on Fourth Street in Marietta.
She said during the program, folks will make their own Valentines using things like beads and ribbons, and they'll also get to see some old Valentines.
"We have some that were donated from a lady that passed away, and she kept from her grandmother and grandmother's grandmother," she said. "They're really old and beautiful and some are handmade. ... Men spent months working on a Valentine."
Goodnite said turnout for the workshops usually depends on the weather, but so far, 10 people have already signed up. She said folks can show up Saturday to participate, and pre-registration is not required.
"I think what appeals to people about the workshop is they are tired of the generic cards that have no special meaning or feeling behind them," she said. "To create a handmade card shows a deeper level of affection than one that is generated by a company and could be directed toward anyone.
"This workshop is a way of going back to a time when friendship and love meant more than can be expressed using a generic, store-bought Valentine," she added.