Today, Valentine’s Day is a popular and highly commercialised celebration.
However, in 1888, Valentine’s Day in Australia was regarded by one colonial journalist as declining in popularity, although he provided no explanation as to why.
“This day is by no means so generally observed as it used to be. Even the custom of sending those highly sentimental missives called valentines appears in a great measure to be falling into disuse.
A few years ago the 14th of February occupied a much more prominent position in the calendar than it does as present.
The manufacturers of this description of stationery began their preparation for the next festival soon after the last was past. Hundreds of women and girls found occupation in the construction of these dainty trifles, their fingers being found specially skilful in putting together the different parts of which they are composed. A heart from this box, a cupid from that, a wreath, some lace-edge paper and a scrap of tulle – this last to soften the effect and perhaps suggest wedding veils – a few paper springs to make the
figures or flowers stand out, and then a daub of gum here and there, and with a few deft touches the valentine is competed, lightness of touch and rapidity of construction being essential to produce a fresh appearance.
For weeks before the day itself the shop windows are crowded with them, valentines of every sort, size or description, pretty ones, ugly ones, expensive ones, cheap ones, valentines for the upper ten, valentines for the million, valentines for everyone to choose from as they will.
And choose they did; the shop counters were besieged with eager buyers some wanting one kind, some another….
And when the eventful day arrived what an important man the postman became, how he was watched for …”*
The death knell was rung too soon and I'm not sorry he was wrong. I love to receive Valentine’s cards and gifts. I hope your day is happy and brings you all the tokens love that you desire!
Source: *South Australian Register, 14 Feb 1888, p. 6.