Valentine’s Day through the Years

By: Jordyn Cooper

Valentine’s Day has been celebrated since the middle ages. It was brought to America by British settlers in the 19th century. Since then, it has evolved immensely. However, the basic ideals of the holiday remain the same, such as exchanging gifts and handing out cards to show your appreciation for others. After doing some research on the holiday, it seems the types of gifts and styles of cards, along with the style of dates people go on, are the main differences in the holiday through the years.

The Squire interviewed Mrs. Ludwig to hear how Valentine’s Day has changed for her through the years. When asked what Valentine’s Day was like when she went to elementary school, she said, “they always made creative valentine boxes or bags, and everyone brought valentines in for every person in the class—with a special ‘teacher’ valentine in each box.” She explained that you had to get them early so you could get the best valentines, and not the lame ones.

The tradition of giving physical valentines has an interesting history. According to southtree.com, Valentine cards became increasingly popular in the 1700s as just slips of paper. As postal rates in Britain became standardized, the greetings became more widespread throughout the 1800s. After the Civil war, over 66,000 Valentine cards were mailed. In the 1900s, the cards went from paper to detailed fabric-like covers that most of the time had cherubs or elegant looking women on the front. Valentine greetings became more modernized at the beginning of the 2000s with the majority having pictures of popular cartoon characters or singers on them.

When she got older and went to high school, Mrs. Ludwig shared that they didn’t make a big deal out of it and that if you got a flower, it had been ordered from the flower shop. She mentioned that the biggest change she’s noticed in celebrating the holiday compared to when she was in high school is that, “It seems to be a much bigger deal at the high school level than it was when I was in high school—when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. I like the carnations that are sold, but I do not like that lots of kids feel left out on this day…”  The Squire asked how she has seen students celebrate Valentine’s Day, she said, “watching middle school kids on Valentine’s Day is amusing. You know… the age where you are “going out” but you never really go anywhere.”

Gift giving is a common tradition on Valentine’s Day. The Squire looked at some of the most popular Valentine gifts through the decades. In the late 1700s, a traditional Valentine’s Day gift for ladies was gloves. If she wore the gloves on Easter Sunday, it meant that she returned his feelings. The 1800s was when Valentine greeting cards were developed and largely distributed. A popular Valentine gift during the 1900s and currently is candy, jewelry, or flowers. For many years, the candy boxes have traditionally come in the shape of a heart with ribbon and sometimes a picture of cupid.

Valentine’s Day has become one of the most well-known holidays celebrated around world. This Valentine’s Day, if you want to follow the tradition of giving Valentine cards, check out Pinterest.com for some ideas.

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