When Did Valentine’s Day Get Such a Bad Rap?

The other day, I got a package in the mail from my mom and dad. In it, was a little Valentine’s day gift (yes, I know I am 27 years old.. what is your point, please?), as well as this vintage looking card with Raggedy Ann on the front:


Curious, I opened it up to reveal that this was one of the cards I had given away myself in elementary school.


Cute, eh? I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure I gave these out in grade 3. I also dressed up as Raggedy Ann for Halloween that year, so the timeline (and sadness) of it all would make sense.

Grade 3 was a bit of an awkward year for me.

Anyway, it all got me to thinking about Valentine’s days past.

I will take any excuse to use this flashback image.
I will take any excuse to use this flashback image.

Back when I was a kid, Valentine’s day was invariably awesome. I’d wake up to some little treat from my parents; a card with some chocolate, some new barrettes, maybe even a Barbie (!!!) and then sit down to what I can only assume were my dad’s attempt at heart-shaped pancakes.

He tried.
He tried.

Then, I would deck myself out in red from head to toe (even the socks. I was a Valentine’s day extremist) and head to school, where we’d spend the morning fashioning little envelopes out of construction paper to hang on the edge of our desks to collect our Valentine’s bounty.


After lunch was when the magic happened: Everyone brought in some food item to share with the class; (homemade cupcakes if your mom was fancy; a box of Oreos in my case) and there was often a bowl of punch, which, as a kid always made you feel very grown up.

Then, when it was time, you’d walk around the room and drop your painstakingly chosen Valentines into the newly minted envelopes of each of your classmates. No one was ever left out; as the rule in my school was that everyone got a Valentine.


When all was said and done, I’d lay them all out on my desk; analyzing my haul the way I would my Halloween candy. Disney cards were always a constant; The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast. Other themes varied from year to year. One year Power Rangers was big; another year I distinctly remember getting 6 separate Sailor Moon cards.


I can’t help but wonder; when did it all change? When did Valentine’s day go from being this awesome day filled with treats, kitschy cards and self-assurance; to the polarizing, commercial holiday it is today? When did we start calling it “Singles Awareness Day”, rather than just “Best Day Ever”?

sadWas it once elementary school ended, and the safety net of everyone getting a card was cruelly ripped out from under us? Or was it even sooner? Come to think of it, I remember as early as grade four, poring over the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles card given to me by my crush, analyzing the cryptic message inside. “You have a Pizza My Heart” it read. Did this mean we were officially an item now? He had pushed me in the mud earlier that day…


I can’t say for sure, but I kind of long to have those days back. I want to make sh*t out of construction paper again, and dress in monochromatic red with reckless abandon. I want to drink Hawaiian punch out of a fancy bowl and gorge myself on Grocery store slab cake. (Ok, that last part I will probably still do; though it will be in the solace of my own home rather than a classroom setting. And the punch will probably be spiked with the good stuff). Who’s with me? Let’s find a DeLorean and make it happen.

Question of the Day: When did your perception of Valentine’s Day shift?


29 thoughts on “When Did Valentine’s Day Get Such a Bad Rap?

Add yours

  1. Even all the single Valentine’s Days, I never became a hater. Shit, I’m even wearing red today, but you’re right, no one’s in the spirit anymore. I thin we need to bring back giving out bags of candy and valentines. …I could settle for just the candy, really. Better yet, since we’re “grown up” lets upgrade to whole cheesecakes and cookies with frosting.


  2. My perception of Valentine’s Day turned when I realized how commercialized it had become. When jewelers, florists, and Hallmart all put out commercials telling you you’re a loser if you don’t buy their product for your loved one. And as I’ve gotten older I came to the conclusion that if you need a holiday to celebrate your love for someone then you’re living life wrong. Love should be shown every day to those whom you love.


  3. This was great, I remember those days well. Thanks for sharing. When I realized it was a made up holiday, created to make money. This occurred simultaneously when I worked my creative best to make a super romantic evening for the love of my life at the time. I made dinner, bought her roses, had romantic music playing, and she looked at me with her beautiful blue eyes and said, “That’s it?” There you go. Have a happy day despite this holiday. Thanks for the entertainment.


  4. I was single for (to be fair agewise) 7 years before I even had a Valentine on Valentine’s Day, and sure, it sucked when everyone was getting showered with gifts at school, but it was like, “Hey…I’m going to show love to everyone I love, rather than just a significant other.” I’d rather just be positive about it, and make sure we remember to do that not just on V-Day, but on every other day as well.


  5. I’ve never been a fan of Valentines day. To me, today is Thursday and it will be that way to me forever. I don’t see why there should no be one specific day where you share and express your love for someone, it’s surely a lot nicer to surprise them throughout the year!


  6. I love Valentine’s! I’ve never been a hater. I think you’re on to something with the “give one to everyone” safety net though. That didn’t exist “back in the day”. You KNEW how popular you were by how full the heart was. I guess the kids with empty hearts became teachers and “fixed” everything??? Regardless, happy Valentine’s!! ❀


  7. My perception never shifted! I still love it! I loved elementary school with the sugary treats and sugary drinks. Yum. And the cards! I loved the boy cards that had absolutely nothing to do with Vday. So awesome.

    I love that your parents sent you that card. So cute! Also, that heart shaped pancake looks like an actual heart found in the human body. It’s actually totally advanced.


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