Naughty Valentine’s Day cards sales are up – but do they really work?
Feb. 12, 2020
IT used to be the violets that were blue – nowadays it’s the Valentine cards.
Sexual innuendo and bawdy banter are the order of the day, and we may have Love Island to thank for that.
This year many of the cards stocked in major high street stores such as Cards Galore, Scribbler and Paperchase are too naughty to print in this family newspaper.
The crude captions are so commonplace that some shops are displaying Offensive Content warnings. Don’t take your child card shopping unless you fancy explaining what “sit on my face” means.
Some customers may be shocked but retail expert Claire Bailey argues that shops wouldn’t stock the cards if they didn’t sell. She said: “Retailers respond to consumer trends and demands.
“They are constantly monitoring the mood of the nation, whether that’s how we communicate on social media, the memes we share or the TV shows we love.
“It’s acceptable to be a bit more cheeky and risque now. Just look at Love Island — explicit language and behaviour has become mainstream.”
But Valentine cards with shock value are nothing new.
Long before Hallmark turned February 14 into a festival of hearts, flowers and sickly sentiment, the Victorians were sending messages designed to offend.
These so called “Vinegar Valentines” were all the rage in the 19th century when people would send deliberately insulting cards to those they didn’t like or wanted to put off.
One example that survives features a cartoon of a woman with a large nose, addressed to Miss Nosey.
It reads: “On account of your talk of others’ affairs/At most dances you sit warming the chairs.
Because of the care with which you attend/To all others’ business you haven’t a friend.”
But at least the vinegar Valentines had some humour about them.
After Hallmark got involved, printing its first mass- produced card in 1913, Valentine’s Day descended into a commercialised schmaltz-fest, and wit went out of the window.
Claire Bailey argues that the Valentines of old were anonymous declarations of affection — which were pointless for couples in long-term relationships.
Retailers spotted a gap in the market for happily settled lovers who wanted to inject a bit of fun with a cheeky card.
She said: “That’s where the cards come in which will make your other half laugh, or raise their eyebrows.
“Not everyone wants the old-fashioned hearts and flowers. We are more tolerant of things which are a little bit naughty.”
It makes sense. Most of us are more comfortable with a clever pun than a sentimental declaration of love.
And science backs it up too, with studies showing that humour is a key factor in forming romantic relationships .
So don’t worry if your Valentine card is filthy this year — just make sure it’s funny.
EastEnders' Jean Slater overjoyed as Daniel surprises her with an early Valentine's Day