Cross-Cultural Exchange & Assimilation
This valentine represents the melding of
foreign craft and religious traditions.
This ornate paper valentine features hearts, birds, flowers, and a couple-- traditional symbols associated with Valentine’s Day in America. Known as a Scherenschnitte, after the German scissor technique of the same name, the valentine shows how the celebration of this increasingly popular American holiday was shaped by immigrant cultures. In keeping with the symmetrical compositions found in Dutch and German Folk art, the coupled images-- two birds, flowers, and the couple-- evoke the ideas of unity.
Indeed, the Scherenschnitte closely resembles traditional Pennsylvania Dutch wedding plates, which use similar symbols and symmetrical composition to represent the union of matrimony. Calling upon these Pennsylvania Dutch artistic designs and techniques, this valentine represents the melding of foreign craft and religious traditions with Valentine's Day. Immigrants from Germany and most northern and western European nations eacch contributed in their own way to the making of modern Valentine’s Day traditions. By comparison, the participation of African Americans, the Irish, and other ethnic minorities in Valentine’s Day celebrations was far more fraught, as caricatures of these and other perceived outsiders regularly appeared on vinegar valentines produced for profit and the amusement of insiders.