Assuming that you've done your due diligence of already getting to the nearest department store or online shopping cart, what exactly are we celebrating today?
The Legend of St. Valentine
Here's the history of the patron Saint Valentine, or shall we say mystery. One legend contends that St. Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he proceeded to outlaw marriage for young men. St. Valentine, realizing the injustice to the young men, defied the emperor and continued to perform marriage for young lovers in secret. Upon this discovery, Claudius put Valentine to death.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for helping Christians escape Roman prisons, while another tale alludes to an imprisoned Valentine actually sending the first "valentine" greeting after he fell in love with a young girl, who had visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed, "From your Valentine."
Although the truth behind the St. Valentine story appears vague at best, the legend as we've come to know, emphasizes a sympathetic, heroic and a let's just call it the "selling point", of a romantic figure that has transcended centuries.
So what appears to be a day of celebrating the life of priest known as St. Valentine's, has turned into the second-most popular card sending day of the year, behind Christmas day. Certainly, we can agree that Hallmark Cards has not only created one of the world's best-known slogans, but captured the persona of "When You Care Enough To Send The Very Best", for any type of occasion, Valentine's Day or not, by gosh, it better be a one of those originals from the company that was founded by Joyce (J.C.) Hall.
Born in 1891 in David City, Nebraska, Hall worked odd jobs, mostly involving sales from as early as eight years old. In 1905, Hall had his brothers invested $540 to buy picture postcards and sell to store owners and other dealers around the Norfolk area. By 1908, Hall conceived the Norfolk Post Card Company and moved the business, which he carried in no more than two shoes boxes, to Kansas City, MO. By 1913, Hall and his brothers were operating Hall's department store, selling postcards and greeting cards. He bought an engraving business and began printing his own cards and in 1928, marketed the cards under the Hallmark brand name.
Hall retired in 1966 and spent the better part of his years up until his death in 1982 revitalizing the Kansas City downtown area. He once stated:
How are You 'Getting Rich'?
To his millions of loyal customers, Hall created a company and brand that continues to embody what we are all trying to capture today on Valentine's Day ~ someone's heart. Whether it's for a moment or a lifetime, we know that by appealing to someone's emotions, in the sense that we really show that we care, we have the ability to create a bond, a loyalty, a lasting friendship, a business relationship, that can last a lifetime.
With that strategy in mind, we have a chance, not only today, but everyday to really make a connection to individuals that will be deemed as caring, quality and the best that we have to give.
So, I ask in the "Big Red" spirit of a Nebraska-born girl on this, Valentine's Day 2012, what are you doing to makes someone else feel special today? It's amazing to me how often the least bit of effort, can yield us an audacious reward of the heart. It's up to you! Give it your best!
With an attitude of gratitude, may your day and those around you be abundantly blessed!
Sidebar from the Hallmark Card website:
In 1951, NBC approached Hallmark about sponsoring the first original opera created especially for television, Amahl and the Night Visitors. J.C. Hall decided to sponsor the program to thank all the people who bought Hallmark cards.
The opera aired on Christmas Eve and moved viewers to send thousands of letters, cards, and telegrams thanking Hallmark for presenting it. This would be the first in a series of specials that would become the Hallmark Hall of Fame.
In the nearly 60 years since, Hallmark Hall of Fame productions have won 80 Emmy Awards. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has presented two Emmy Awards to Hallmark as a sponsor.
By the time the company name was officially changed from Hall Brothers to Hallmark Cards, Inc. in 1954, the tradition of entrepreneurship and innovation started by J.C. Hall was deeply ingrained.