The Archivist: A look back at Valentine's Day 100 years ago

Mary Phillips: Was Valentine's Day already considered too commercial?
BY MARY PHILLIPS, For The Oklahoman Published: February 10, 2014
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Valentine's Day will be Friday and many hearts, flowers and much candy will be exchanged and memories will be made.

Feb. 8, 1914, Alvin Rucker, a reporter for The Oklahoman, offered this history of Valentine's Day and its evolution.

“The youthful swain who on February 14 asks some dove-eyed damsel with lips like threads of scarlet to be his Valentine should do so only after mature deliberation and a perfect willingness to abide by the consequences of the answer received. Ethics of Saint Valentine's day require of the more or less fortunate young man that for a period of one year he remain in the service of the young lady who has consented to be his Valentine, much as did the knight of medieval times remain in a sort of probationary service to his lady love.”

“Saint Valentine's day, however, has lost much of the beautiful custom that was entwined around it prior to the commercialized days of the twentieth century and now the day is one of the very few saint's days that still maintain a place in the calendar, and like Saint Patrick's and Hallowe'en, All Saints Day, is honored more in the breech than in the observance.”

“In the days of ‘Good Queen Bess' Saint Valentine's day had attained a fixed place in the custom of England and was being immortalized in the song and verse as the day of the year when the fish and the fowl, the bee and the beast creation paired off into mates for the ensuing year. The custom of young men on February 14 asking young women to be their Valentine is mentioned in the folklore books as having been accidentally associated with the celebration of the anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint Valentine, a Roman priest who flourished and suffered during the second half of the third century and was buried on the Flamian way in Italy.”