Love Tokens and Valentine’s Day….
tems given as a token of love and having a sentimental value
are known as love tokens. The custom of making and/or giving
articles decorated with hearts or love messages has been common for
many centuries. These may be knitted scarves, cookie molds, lace
bobbins, combs, pins, lockets and intricately carved items such as
Welsh love spoons.
And yes, even nutcrackers. In the 16th century Henry VIII gave his
second wife Anne Boleyn a wooden decorative nutcracker. In going
through the Museum I found 18th century brass, bronze and wood
nutcrackers with heart decoration, and no doubt these at one time
had been gifts of love.
Valentine’s Day began as a pagan celebration, and it was not
associated with love until 1300. Birds started mating in February so
the whole month began to be known as the month of love. In the 17th
century cards were being sent to loved ones, and in 1840 a
commercial printed card was available. Today there are over 1
billion cards sent each year. The colorful designs of E. M. Merck
for KWO would make delightful Valentine greetings.
There are over 35 million heart shaped boxes of candy given each
year. George paid 25 cents for a little heart shaped box of candy
for me in the 6th grade, and another until his junior year when he
joined the Marines as war was declared on Japan. Later when we got
together again the custom resumed. Today that same little box of
candy is $3.50. Here is a nutcracker by Christian Steinbach showing
treats that were made for Valentine’s Day.
Four billion dollars are spent in the US for Valentine’s Day, and
there are more proposals of marriage made on this day than any
other. Here is a picture of Ulbricht’s Queen and King of Hearts who
would represent a happy Valentine’s marriage. They were created in
the Ulbricht workshops in Lauingen in 1985 and are still standing
side by side.
The delightful folk art carvings of Mary Myers of Virginia are
enjoyed by many. The angel pictured here is holding a Valentine,
which appears to be a candy heart, and accessories are included with
the nutcracker for many other holidays throughout the year. There
are over 8 billion candy hearts produced each year.
62% of the people in the
US celebrate Valentine’s Day, and it is also celebrated in Canada,
Mexico, France, Australia, Denmark, Italy, Japan and the United
Kingdom. And did you know that there are 9 million people who will
buy their pets a gift for this special day?
Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum