[Editor: This article, regarding Valentine’s Day, was published in The Herald (Melbourne, Vic.), 14 February 1894.]
St. Valentine’s Day.
No valentine trade.
Valentine chit chat.
St. Valentine’ Day is so far forgotten nowadays that a leading bookseller assures me none has been imported this year; the few that are seen about are the remains of last year’s stock.
For some time, I understand, there has been no valentine trade in the Collins street shops, and now nothing has been imported to supply shops in other localities. The custom of sending valentines is certainty dying out — perhaps, too, the hard times have had something to do with the decrease in the demand for dainty cards with sickly sweet verses. Or perhaps the swains are their own poets. It is cheaper, but must sometimes be rather a trial to the recipient. I wonder what tale the postman’s bag tells this year. Has it been lighter? Despite the assertion there is no longer a valentine trade, has something been sent?
Pretty flowers in devices suggested by the donors have, I know, for Ronalds, the florists, who make a specialty of this and similar work, tell me they have executed many orders.
It would not be nice to think that everything æsthetic was forgotten or was supplanted by the vulgar prints erroneously called comic — another word for vulgar to some people — that are more persistently displayed than any other kind of valentine.
St. Francis de Sales is the reputed originator of the valentine. He used to write something anent St. Valentine on slips of paper he gave to boys on 14th February, hence the name Valentine. What he wrote referred to the life and sufferings of St. Valentine, and I have read, and I cannot just now recall where, these missives bore words of especial sweetness. What a terrible shock St. Francis would receive could he see the words some modern valentines bear. Yet they are in imitation of — a long way after — his missives.
So here to-day an anniversary that was once celebrated with much circumstance — the anniversary of love — is dying out. Perhaps the Australians are getting platonic, or, what I think is a better guess, they keep their festival so well right through the year they need no special day to help them. And perhaps even as Pope Gelaeius had to abolish the scandalous orgies held at the Lupercalian feast on the 15th of February, and substitute the anniversary of St. Valentine’s death on the 14th February for the anniversary of the festival of love, some good spiritual director of the future — if such people exist in the future — there are great possibilities in the future — may find it necessary to concentrate this long drawn out festival of the Australian into a day.
Still no patriotic Australians would stand that. A month would be the least they would stand. I am afraid it would be useless to ask them which month they would have; they would want the whole twelve. They are very quiet over it, so we may be sure are very well satisfied with their own arrangements.
The Herald (Melbourne, Vic.), 14 February 1894, p. 3
Also published in:
The Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic.), 17 February 1894, p. 11
æsthetic = (also spelt: aesthetic) concerned with appearance, artistic impact, beauty, or a tasteful appeal to the senses; something which appeals to the senses or which is beautiful to look at, especially in an artistic fashion; characterised by or regarding an appreciation of artistic and beautiful things; connected with art and beauty, and the understanding of artistic and beautiful things; concerned with, regarding, or relating to art and beauty, rather than to practical considerations and effects; the study of art and beauty
anent = about, concerning, as regards, with regard to, in respect to; adjoining, across from, alongside, beside, close to, near; in line with, on a level with
Lupercalian = of or relating to the festival of Lupercalia: a festival of ancient Rome which was held each year on 15 February as a means of purification, to make the land fruitful, increase the flocks, and ensure the prosperity of the people
See: 1) “Lupercalia: ancient Roman festival”, Encyclopaedia Britannica
2) “1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lupercalia”, Wikisource
3) “Lupercalia”, Wikipedia
missive = a letter, memorandum, note, or written message
St. = (abbreviation) Saint
swain = a young male admirer, lover, or suitor; also may refer to a country lad, peasant, or shepherd
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