Everything’s love and kisses on Valentine’s Day now, but in Victorian times, some people didn’t always have their hearts in the right place. Beginning in the 1840s, and continuing until the 1940s, so-called "vinegar valentines" were sent out by sarcastic individuals whose goal was to insult others. The mean-spirited and crudely-produced greeting cards sometimes accompanied crass gifts, such as rotting meat, or even dead pigs dressed up as babies. The anti-valentines were sent by both men and women in the United States and Britain, often to reject unwelcome romantic advances.
Roses are red, violets are blue:
- Millions of vinegar valentines containing verses that insulted the recipient's appearance, intelligence, or occupation were sold in the 19th and 20th centuries.
- These unflattering cards sometimes started arguments and even fistfights. The vinegar valentines often criticized women for being domineering and men for being weak.
- The cards -- typically a sheet of colored paper about the size of a modern greeting card -- were usually sent anonymously. Postmasters sometimes confiscated the cards, considering them unfit to be mailed.