A Victorian Valentine Exchange

Victorian Valentine’s Day Flowers distributed

This Victorian Valentine exchange description is an excerpt of an article written by Alice K. Fallows in 1900. I think you'll find it very interesting.

Exchange of Valentines

After supper comes the last number on the programme, which, according to the law of climax, should be the best. For a Valentine party it must naturally be the exchange of valentines. A pretty little ceremony to open the performance is the presentation of a rose to each lady and a carnation to each gentleman. This is the valentine the hostess gives her guests. The flowers may be put in fancy baskets with covers of tissue paper, which are broken as the guests begin to draw. The roses should be on one small table, the carnations on another. Before the ladies begin to take out their roses the hostess may read to them this verse:

     Like seeks like, the proverb runs –
           Well I know ‘tis true –
     So roses, for a valentine,
           Give I unto you.

Before the masculine half of the audience investigates the contents of the other basket, she may say:

     Your liberty ends with this hour;
           Humbly, then bow at the shrine;
     Knighted you are with this flower
           In the service of St. Valentine.

One desirable way of providing enough valentines to go around is to ask each guest to bring one unaddressed valentine, appropriate for some one of the opposite sex. The two kinds should be kept separate, then at the end of the evening those intended for the girls should be distributed to the men of the company, who are asked to stand in a circle outside of a circle made by the girls. Some one plays on the piano; the circle of men swings to the right, stopping suddenly as the music ceases, when each man delivers his valentine to the girl opposite.

Next, the valentines intended for the men should be given to the girls, seated in a row. The men form themselves in line out in the hall just as they chance to come, march in and stand in line before the girls in their order. No man may receive his valentine until he has paid the fair damsel in from of him a compliment in which each word begins with the first letter of her last name. No. 1 must begin, and the other men must follow in orderly sequence.

Miss Scott may, perhaps, have a pretty speech like this: “surely sunbeams sink sadly, since Miss Scott Shines so superbly.”

Miss Carr learns that she “can charm care consummately.”

Everybody listens to the compliment, and the attempt of each competitor to surpass his neighbor often produces remarkably clever results. If the guests are not too many, the valentines may be read aloud afterwards, but the hostess must watch carefully to see that nothng becomes tedious or irksome.

Distributing Valentines, Victorian Style

A simpler way of distributing the valentines is to have a box for each kind, from which the two halves of the company draw. Another method is t distribute them from a small booth, arranged in one corner of the room, to the guests coming one at a time.

The hostess, if she likes, can write valentines enough for her whole company, making each one appropriate to a particular person, or she may adapt verses already written, or give presents, from penny jokes to sterling silver pen holders.

Another way still is to set her guests, some time during the evening, to writing their own valentines, asking the partners to write one each for the other, and awarding prizes for the two which are voted the best.

For more on Victorian Valentine’s Day Festivities, see:

How to Celebrate a Victorian Valentine’s Day

AVictorian Valentine’s Day Party Menu

More Valentine Day Games for Your Victorian Party

Suggested Prizes for Valentine’s Day Games


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