Flowers are as traditional as cards for Valentine’s Day celebrations. In bygone eras, Valentine’s cards often featured flowers as part of the sentimental message the card was trying to convey. A look at some antique cards shows us flowers we know and love and flowers that are hard to identify, as well as some other objects we associated with love and romance.
As you might guess, roses were a popular choice. Perhaps the fondness for roses dates back to Edmund Spenser’s epic The Faerie Queene (1590):
She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.
The poem expanded to become a nursery rhyme and popular sentiment in cards:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you.
Roses take many forms in cards. There are single roses…
Full blown roses…
Garland of roses.
Here the message is about the meaning of a red rose.
But what about the message of yellow roses?
Lace may be added.
And other flowers too.
Here, roses are adorned by a butterfly as well as daisies and dogwood.
Violets are also featured.
Here they are shown in bouquets.
Here in a wreath.
And how do you like the giant heart of violets?
Their cousins, pansies, are also popular.
Sometimes very brightly colored.
Lily of the valley adds a touch of nostalgia .
A bounty of lilacs recall their heady fragrance.
Small blue flowers may be forget-me-nots.
Here, they are combined here with a spider web.
Tulips in a pot make a good gift.
An iris is a hiding place for a cupid.
A morning glory sets off the portrait of a girl.
Here’s one that may make you bristle.
Geraniums add a folksy accent.
Do these bachelor buttons suggest something about the sender?
A single sunflower becomes a whole bouquet.
This card features just two flowers, a single bleeding heart blossom and a blue larkspur-like flower.
Other hard to identify flowers include these large red blooms, perhaps poppies.
Sometimes masses of flowers are shown.
Or a garden scene.
Even a simple seascape framed by trees.
To think that all Valentine cards had flowers would be wrong. Cards featured many objects like doves, the bird sacred to Venus, the goddess of love.
A look at the cards available today reveals a different take on Valentine’s Day.
Athletic shoes suggest our casual life style.
Lips suggest a more physical aspect of our lives.
Humor enters the picture.
Superheroes even get into the act.
The quaint charm of cards from the past capture the spirit I favor. Perhaps this is because of the flowers and other images that always seem to make life more pleasant and enjoyable. What makes life more worth living than family, love and meaningful relationships? And what reminds us more about those values than flowers?