[Editor: This article, by F.F.B., regarding Valentine’s Day, was published in The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW), 10 February 1915.]
No longer on St. Valentine’s Day do maiden hearts flutter violently at each visit of the postman, and if, on the occasion of his last knock, no valentine has come, become forlorn and dejected, because no one thinks of them.
Like so many other customs of a purely sentimental nature, this one has now fallen into disuse. Yet, about a quarter of a century ago, the St. Valentine ritual was observed in Australia. Few, however, troubled about its origin, but just took its celebration for granted, like so many other things.
St. Valentine is believed to have been a bishop who suffered martyrdom under Claudius II., at Rome, on February 14. The old idea was that the birds began to mate on that day, hence the practice of young people sending valentines. The day was only kept up in Great Britain and her colonies.
Though in this rushing, bustling, work-a-day world, the little sentimentalities of a bygone age are apt to be scorned, they nevertheless had some meaning for those who once practised them.
A rather pathetic little drama, with St. Valentine’s Day as a background, was recently enacted. An elderly spinster with silvered hair and a sweet, tender expression, a delightful personality, and the confidante of all the young people, was the principal, actor. The world at large had often wondered why she had never married.
But one St. Valentine’s Day a particularly dear friend had called to see her, and she told her her story.
Beside her on the table was a dainty sandalwood box. She opened it reverently, and brought out a packet tied with blue ribbon. After several layers of paper had been removed, a valentine, depicting two hearts tied with a true lovers’ knot, was disclosed. A faint rose-scent still hung about it, though the owner said she had had it for 30 years, and it was the only one she had ever received. It was also the first time she had shown it to anyone.
“But,” remarked her friend, “I wonder you never married.”
“No one ever asked me, my dear,” was the reply.
“Do you mean to say you never had a proposal in your life?” inquired the other.
That this woman, with all the attributes that make for a good wife and mother should have never been asked by even one man to share his hearth and home is one of those unfathomable mysteries of life.
The faded, and to the younger, somewhat irreverent generation, rather ridiculous little valentine was the sole token that charming woman possessed of the fact that someone had once thought lovingly of her.
The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW), 10 February 1915, p. 17 (Third Edition)
Also published in:
Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser (Maryborough, Qld.), 15 February 1915, p. 8
pathetic = something which evokes feelings of sadness or sorrow (can also refer to something which is considered inadequate, inferior, or beneath contempt)
valentine = a Valentine’s Day card; a greeting card, gift, message, or token (anonymous or signed) which expresses affection, attraction, or love, which is sent to a lover, sweetheart, or the object of one’s affection on the occasion of Saint Valentine’s Day (14th February); someone who is the recipient or sender of a Valentine’s Day card, gift, message, or token; one’s lover or sweetheart