Thursday, February 14, 2019

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue ...

In honor of the day - Valentine's Day - or St. Valentine's Day - or Sweetheart's Day, as it's sometimes referred, I'm going to bring you some of the dark, mysterious and often times startling Victorian traditions - the Vinegar Valentine. Because, there's really nothing quite like getting surprise hate mail from a would-be lover on February 14!
 

During the 1840's, hopeful American and British lovers sent lacy Valentines with cursive flourishes and lofty poems by the thoussands. But, what to do if you didn't love the person who had their eyes on you? 

In the Victorian era, there was no better way to let someone know they were unwanted than with the ultimate insult: the vinegar Valentine. Also called comic Valentines, these unwelcome notes were sometimes crass and always a bit emotionally damaging in the anti-spirit of Valentine's Day.
 
Vinegar Valentines were commercially bought postcards that were less beautiful than their love-filled counterparts, and contained an insulting poem and illustration. There were sent anonymously, so the received had to guess who hated him or her; as if this weren't bruising enough, the recipeient paid the postage on delivery!

In Civil War Humor, Cameron C. Nickels wronte that vinegar Valentines were "tasteless, even vulgar," and were sent to "drunks, shrews, bachelors, old maids, dandies, flirts, and penny pinchers and the like." He added that in 1847, sales between love-minded Valentines and these sour notes were split at a major New York Valentine publisher!
 
Some vinegar Valentines were playful or sarcastic, and sold as comic Valentines to soldiers - but many could really sting. "Lady Shoppers" and salesmen were sent or handed vinegar Valentines admonishing their values; some vinegar Valentines called physicians names like "Doctor Sure-Death" (a character who ran up expensive bills), and others chided the 'stupid postman' who was sending the note. One vinegar Valentine titled "Old Maid" and reprinted by Orange Coast Magazine in 1984, is more than a little harsh:
“’Tis all in vain your simpering looks,
You never can incline,
With all your bustles, stays and curls,
To find a Valentine.”

The women's suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th century brought another class of vinegar Valentines, targeting women who fought for the right to vote. While only a small percentage of mean-spirited cards were devoted to suffragists, Kenneth Florey argues in American Woman Suffrage Postcards that "it is clear from their context that an interest in women's rights was an inherent part ofone's distorted personality." These cards depicted such women as ugly abusers. It isn't known whether these were sent directly to troll women's rights activists or if they were sent to like-minded friends who disagreed with the movement.
 
Suffragists did have their own pro-women's rights Valentines to pass around on February 14. Florey wrote that one threw shade on anti-suffragists with the phrase 'No Vote, No Kiss." But, in light of the supposed unattractiveness of suffragists (according to men), many 19th century women enticed their would-be lovers by sending cards that denied support of the women's rights cause. One of these cards, quoted by Florey, depicted a pretty woman surrounded by hearts, with a plain appeal: "In these wild days of suffragette drays, I'm sure you'd ne'er overlook a girl who can't be militant but merely loves to cook."

Many vinegar Valentines from the late 19th century were drawn by Charles Howard, who put ridiculous caricatures of the sorry recipient in full color. Ann issue of Kindergarten Primary Magazine from 1985 worried about the moral implication of these cards for children; a teacher from Iowa wrote that she staved off the "desire to send vulgar Valentines" by telling students stories from St. Valentine's treacherous life. The magazine said that teachers must do what could do help "make it a day for kind remembrance than a day for wrecking revenge."
 
Valentines and vinegar valentines alike were once a booming business; in 1905 San Francisco, 25,000 valentines were delayed because of overworked clerks. The more surly cards weren’t always welcomed by postmasters, however—another 25,000 valentines were held in a Chicago post office for being unfit to send, due to the many rude and vinegar valentines in the haul.

As valentines declined in lieu of expensive dinners or gifts, the vinegar valentine became less popular, though in some locations in the 1970s, they were still selling well. While some might mourn the romantic February 14 of the past with its long poems and declarations of love, it’s also much less likely we’ll get a nasty note in the mail as a Valentine’s surprise.

Now ... go make something beautiful!
 ´¨)
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´? Tristan
 
I'll leave you with a photo of this year's Valentine Tree
and a few of my favorite ornaments!









Saturday, January 5, 2019

one of my favorite holiday events ...

No, it's not opening gifts or drinking eggnog or singing Christmas songs or decorating the trees or watching our annual classic holiday movie marathon or even leaving diets far behind and indulging in far too many cookies and treats. Well, those are favorite holiday events - but yet another one is the window shopping tour of the elegant Manhattan department store Christmas window displays! There are so so so many beautiful things to see - and there are simply way too many stores and windows to post them all. So, here is my favorite of 2018 ... the candied, iced and lavish display of "Bergdorf Goodies!"
 "Cotton Candy"
 "Peppermint"
 "Rich Chocolate"
 "Fluorescent Desserts"
 "Frozen Automat"
 "Gingerbread"
"Licorice Fantasy"

"This year our artistic team strived to become faux pastry chefs, dishing up a wall-to-wall profusion of sculpted confections." says David Hoey, senior director of visual presentation at Bergdorf Goodman.

I thought they did a superb job!

There were so many other gorgeous windows ... but I'll leave you with one of my favorite 'runner up' stores ... the magnificent Tiffany & Co. Their theme this year was "The Holidays Made by Tiffany." Indeed! Such a witty - and sparkling! - holiday they created!
 
and a little close up of the glittering merchandise on display!
 I can't wait to see what magical wonders Christmas 2019 will bring!

...now, go make something beautiful!
 ´¨)
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´? Tristan
 Saks Fifth Avenue "Theatre of Dreams" 2018 Theme

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

Best wishes for a rewarding, enriching and nourishing 2019!

...now go make something beautiful! 
 ´¨)
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´? Tristan