Chocolate boxes and red, red roses. That’s what Valentine’s Day is, right? Not everyone agrees. For some, it’s a day for lovers and friends to buck up the courage to share their typically unsaid feelings of appreciation and adoration with each other. For others, it is an overrated excuse for companies to market cheap cards and candies in the hopes that men and women will buy something out of half-guilty obligation. Still others, finding themselves relationship-less, less than enthusiastically brace themselves for “Singles Awareness Day.” Occasionally Valentine’s Day is all these things or none, but the fact remains that the day itself originated somewhere, and it wasn’t Hallmark.
Newspapers across the last century have sometimes delved into the deeper meaning of the love holiday. Here are just a few examples of articles that look into how the holiday began, what it is meant to be, and what it is slowly becoming.
First, this article from 1914 explains the origin of the name as stemming from one of the several Saint Valentines in history, though which it was and for what reason remained unclear. The article linked in the first photo of this post shares a similar history, with a little more background.
If you’re convinced that Valentine’s Day is nothing but a commercialized joke, the next article will do nothing to dissuade you. It breaks down the most popular purchases of the year (in this case, 1974), talks of novelty items, and reveals the interesting truth that wives buy their husbands Valentine’s cards weeks in advance. The husbands, on the other hand, can be counted on to scour the sparse shelves on the 13th, searching for the perfect gift to mollify their expectant ladies.
Perhaps you and your significant other share differing views on the holiday. Is it a socially accepted day set aside for a special show of love, or a eyeroll-inducing gimmick? This 1999 article explores the frequent differences in opinion found in spouses and special someones, and the ways they celebrate anyway.
And for a cute Valentine’s story, take a look at this delightful story from a 1924 article in the Iowa City Press.