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Love is in the Mail–A Valentine’s Day Tradition

25 percent of all cards sent each year are valentines. Why do we send Valentine’s day cards? Here is an explanation and how you can send your love a card with an appropriate postmark.

As soon as Christmas decorations leave store shelves, they’re replaced by heart-shaped boxes of candy, chubby cherub figurines and teddy bears with bright red bows — all in the name of Saint Valentine.

So who was Saint Valentine and how did the holiday evolve into the candy and flower giving celebration we know today?

The details vary, but most credit the Romans and the feast of Lupercalia — intended to secure fertility and keep out evil — with staring the February tradition.

When the holiday was Christianized during the Middle Ages, the details of Saint Valentine take off in many directions. In one account, Saint Valentine was rejected by his mistress and was so distraught that he took a knife to his chest and sent her his still-beating heart as a token of his undying love. It is said that this is why we send heart-shaped cards — not really the most romantic image to my way of thinking though.

By the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand-made cards made of lace, ribbons and hearts (paper ones that is) on Valentine’s Day became common in England. Soon the tradition spread to the American colonies.

It was in the 1850s when Esther A. Howland, a Mount Holyoke graduate and native of Worcester, Mass., began mass-producing valentines and the custom took off.

According to the Greeting Card Association, 25 percent of all cards sent each year are valentines — second only to Christmas cards.

Passionate Postmarks

Every year the Postal Service offers Valentine postmarks from several love-themed communities across the nation.

To get a love-themed postmark on all your Valentine messages, mail your stamped, addressed Valentine’s Day cards in a larger envelope to Postmaster, Valentine Re-mailing, and add the city, state and ZIP Code of one of the following Post Offices:

Beauty, KY 41203
Bliss, ID 83314
Bliss, NY 14024
Darling, MS 38623
Deary, ID 83823
Hartville, WY 82215
Heart Butte, MT 59448
Heartville, NE 68945
Honey Brook, PA 19344
Honey Creek, WI 53138
Honey Grove, PA 17035
Honey Grove, TX 75446
Honeyville, UT 84314
Juliette, GA 31046
Kissimmee, FL 34744
Lovejoy, GA
Lovejoy, IL 62059
Lovelady, TX 75851
Loveland, CO 80538
Loveland, OH 45140
Loveland, OK 73553
Loveville, MD 20656
Loves Park, IL 61111
Loving, NM 88256
Loving, TX 76460
Loveland, OH 45140
Romance, AR 72136
Romeo, MI 48065
Sugar City, ID 83448
Valentine, NE 69201
Valentine, TX 79854
Valentines, VA 23887
Venus, FL 33960
Venus, PA 16364
Venus, TX 76084

Your cards and letters will be postmarked at the office you sent them to and mailed from that office.

Love is in the mail!

About the Author

Marilyn Jones has been a journalist for more than 30 years and is currently a freelance feature writer specializing in travel. Her articles have appeared in major newspapers including the BostonGlobe, Akron Beacon Journal and Chicago Sun-Times as well as regional travel magazines.

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