Love Letters, Then & Now
There was a time, long long ago, when ALL personal communication had to be in real time, in person, face-to-face, body-to-body.
Or someone else had to be trusted to personally deliver the verbal message.
Hindu mythology speaks of a love letter being carried to Krishna on behalf of Princess Rukmini, 5000 years ago.
The first historical instance of an actual “handwritten letter” was written around 500 BC in Persia, by Queen Atossa. To whom, I wonder?
Centuries later, as people became literate, and paper became available, letter writing was the accepted and standard way to communicate.
Formal love letters began to flourish around the year 1400 in the Age of Chivalry. Delivery took many forms, sometimes via pigeon!
In some ways, the tradition has continued, although already-written greeting cards have mostly replaced those more personal and carefully constructed affirmations of love.
Whatever form it takes, when we send our words without our bodies being present, a whole lot gets lost.
Words by themselves account for only a small percentage, maybe 25% or less, of what actually gets communicated.
Back when messages or letters were delivered by servants or slaves (or travelers going in the right direction), the body language of the delivery person may have also influenced the message, even if they weren’t privy to it.
As the telephone became established and widespread, we entered a new era of disembodied communication.
No longer having to wait for the mail, lovers could now express feelings in real time, avoiding the long and sometimes anxiety-inducing intervals of letters being sent and replied to. Also, vocal sound and intonation gives lovers an additional layer of connection.
Video calls, allowing for virtual presence, have taken communication to a whole other level.
We can also stay in touch quickly with a partner via email and messaging. Like typewritten letters, emails can be pondered over and edited before sending.
The small texting and messaging windows are usually less friendly to editing and formatting and tend to be sent instantly.. often with those sometimes-disastrous or hysterical auto-correct typos!!
They are also often sent with little forethought, and in their brevity are easy to misinterpret.
Polls show that most people say that receiving a letter via postal mail would mean more to them than a text or tweet.
Yet most people will NOT be mailing even one letter this year.
In the past, an occasional enterprising lover may also have expressed his or her feelings via newspaper ads.
Today on social media, such public displays of verbal affection are often made via romantic tributes on anniversaries and birthdays, whether or not one’s partner is even using the same social media.
So if you are wanting to express your love feelings, you have many options to consider!
Sometimes a simple “I love you” is all that is needed, however the message is delivered.
Have YOU expressed YOUR love to YOUR Beloved today?
IMAGE: Opening a love letter by Amedeo Simonetti