TODAY, February 14, should not be in celebration of St Valentine. And not
only because such a person probably did not exist. Nor should it be a celebration
of monogamous, romantic love, let alone a minor feast day in the Christian
Instead, it should be a day to celebrate entrepreneurs and retailers,
especially chocolatiers, florists and others involved in the personal gifts
business. And the individual to whom homage should be paid is Ester Howland,
the 19th century American artist, printer and cunning marketeer.
It was in 1850 that Ester, from Worcester in the state of Massachusetts, first hit on the idea of printing romantic cards in celebration of what was by then regarded as a day for romantically inclined gentlemen of standing to declare - usually anonymously - their love for the female they desired.