How they celebrated Valentine’s Day around the turn of the century

LHJ Valentine cover - heart beauty

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.


Valentine’s Day: The day when hearts are stars (1904)

Cleverly adapted timely ideas and games to suit the tradition of Valentine’s Day

The season of St Valentine is always full of novel ideas for the hostess, and some women have been clever enough to take advantage of it. There will be card parties galore at which hearts will be played in every way that a bright woman can devise.

One of the girls has adapted the ubiquitous game of “pit” for her valentine entertainment. She will use ordinary packs of cards and the players will endeavor to fill suits by trading as in “pit.”

Anyone who can draw a handful of hearts will make 500 points, diamonds count 200, spades 150, and clubs 100. As the game is for only 500 points, it may be won in one hand if anyone is lucky enough to gather in the hearts.

The prizes will be suggestive of the season, so will the refreshments and the hostess is already at work, making strings of paper hearts with which to decorate her rooms.

1904 couple kissing valentine

Play at making valentines

Not everyone approves of cards, and a local Methodist maid has invited a dozen guests for a valentine-making. She has ruthlessly cut the heads off magazine pictures of men and women and provided dozens of odd-shaped bits of colored paper which will be divided among the guests who will each make a valentine out of their scraps by pasting them in the semblance of a picture on a card in a limited time.

Another period will be given in which to write the accompanying verse or sentiment, and later a vote will be taken on the most beautiful, the most sentimental and the most humorous.

Hearts as your central theme

All the appointments of a valentine party should be suggestive of hearts, and a frame with a heart-shaped opening has been prepared by another hostess. It will be slipped into a curtained doorway and one by one the girls will hold their hands, stripped of rings, in the opening, and the man will bid for the company of the owners in the games that follow.

To each guest will be given an arrow with a card attached, upon which his or her name is written. A large square of white cloth will be pinned upon the wall, and near the center of the square will be a small red velvet heart.

Old vintage Valentine's Day cards from the turn of the century (5)

Each guest will be blindfolded and attempt to pierce the heart with their arrow. The person planting the arrow in or nearest the heart will be awarded the first prize of a small bisque Cupid; to the owner of the arrow farthest from the mark, a penwiper made of heart-shaped leaves of felt will be presented.

The arrows, which make pretty souvenirs, may be made from large turkey feathers. Strip the quill bare within two inches of the tip. Cut off the end of the quill and split the merest fraction of an inch.

Insert a small, round piece of cork with a pin thrust thru it. Secure the cork in the quill by wrapping tightly with thread. Gild the entire quill pen and thread, and spatter the feathered part with gilt paint.

LHJ Valentine cover - heart beauty

Partner up

Partners may be found for supper by filling a tissue paper bag with hearts, each bearing the name of a girl. One of the girls will be blinded and with a cane will break the tissue covering. The hearts will fall in a shower and the men will scramble for them and a partner.

The fortune cake has been stolen bodily from Halloween, but the silver heart baked in it will foretell a marriage for love, the thimble doom the finder to spinsterhood, and the silver coin a marriage for money.

14 vintage Valentine cards (1900s)

PS: If you liked this article, please share it! You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest. Thanks for visiting and for supporting a small business! 🤩 


You might also like...

The fun never ends:

Comments on this story

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

See some of our books!