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VALENTINE'S DAY NOT JUST FOR LOVERS:GREETING CARDS CELEBRATE ALL TYPES OF RELATIONSHIPS

 WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Valentine's Day conjures up images of romantic sentiments exchanged by sweethearts. But while romance is still the signature of this popular holiday, Valentine's Day has grown into an occasion for celebrating love and affection of all types.
 "It's a day to think back on relationships, and relationships take many different forms," said Peter van Witt, president of the Greeting Card Association (GCA), the national trade organization for the greeting card industry.
 Among the more than 1 billion valentines exchanged this year will be cards that express appreciation for a reliable babysitter, respect for a valued co-worker and sympathy for a friend going through rough times.
 The "V" in Valentine's Day could also stand for variety. Along with traditional cards for family and loved ones, card shoppers will also find religious greetings, cards for baby's first Valentine's Day, large-print valentines for those with reduced vision and cards designed with Spanish-speaking and African-American consumers in mind.
 The scope of Valentine's Day may be broader, but some things still haven't changed. Red -- along with pink, white and purple -- is still the most popular color for valentine's decorations. Hearts and flowers are the favored motifs.
 But creative card publishers are constantly developing inventive ways of using those time-honored symbols. This year look for romantic, Victorian-inspired cards with lace and gilt trim or modern designs with such high visual impact they seem to leap off the paper. Some cards feature satin or prismatic finishes, some are three dimensional. Others play music or even include novelties like potpourri. Many of these ornate cards are designed to be gifts as well, a perfect and economical way to remember a special valentine.
 More consumers will be using licensed characters to convey their Valentine's Day greetings this season. From Mickey and Minnie to the recently deceased Superman, these icons of American culture give consumers plenty of clever, upbeat ways to say Happy Valentine's Day.
 Children are at the heart of this holiday in 1993, with cards that include puzzles, games, punch out designs, pictures to color and other delightful activities. And, as always, there are plenty of boxed "penny" valentines for youngsters to exchange with teachers and schoolmates.
 In a "green" note on this "red" heart day -- many valentines, both boxed and individual, are printed on recycled paper.
 Inside 1993's valentines consumers are likely to find feelings conveyed in a more direct and conversational way than in the past. Humor is also gaining in popularity.
 VALENTINE'S DAY FACTS AND FANCY
 Valentine's Day is the second largest card-sending occasion, after Christmas, and accounts for 22 percent of all seasonal card sales.
 Although people commonly think of it as a holiday for lovers, teachers receive more valentines than any other group of people, followed by children, mothers, wives, then sweethearts.
 Usually, 90 percent of all cards are bought by women, but men buy more cards for Valentine's Day than any other holiday. Some feel that may account for the holiday's "last minute" reputation. More than 75 percent of all Valentine's Day cards are bought during the week before Feb. 14.
 The origin of Valentine's Day is steeped in legend. History serves up eight St. Valentines, three of whom had feasts on Feb. 14. One of these saints is said to have cured his jailer's daughter of blindness while awaiting his Feb. 14 execution. His last letter to her was signed "from your Valentine."
 The holiday could also have less saintly roots in the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalia, a February festival where young men and women drew the names of mates from an urn.
 The first documented valentine was sent in 1415 by Charles Duke of Orleans to his wife. Like the legendary saint, he was imprisoned at the time.
 Commercial valentines first appeared around 1800 and were first published in America in 1849.
 -0- 2/10/93
 /CONTACT: Nancy Riviere of the Greeting Card Association, 202-393-1778, or fax, 202-393-0336/


CO: Greeting Card Association ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:

DC -- DCFNS2 -- 4962 02/10/93 07:31 EST
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Date:Feb 10, 1993
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