Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card–sending holiday after Christmas. The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome.
Americans probably began exchanging hand–made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass–produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card–sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.) Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.
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