How to Celebrate a Victorian Valentines Day

Here’s how to celebrate a Victorian Valentine’s Day. This 1900 article, originally written by Alice K. Fallows not only gives a little background on the holiday but also includes verses to make your very own valentines, PLUS how to plan a Valentine’s Day party … food ideas and games included. Due to its length, it has been divided into sections for easy reading.

It has been edited for use on this site.

Victorian Photograph holder or Message board


Valentine’s Day

In celebrating the festival days that have belonged to the world for two thousand centuries or more, it is pleasant to retain some of the old-time flavor in the new customs. St. Valentine’s day, with its origin in ancient Rome and its varying phases from age to age, is particularly rich in traditions. One of these lends itself easily to modern adaptations. During the Christian era, when the Roman festival fell into disrepute, the spirit of it preserved, and the day itself dedicated to Bishop Valentine. While the religious aspect was strongly emphasized, part of the ceremony of the day was to write the names of saints on slips of paper. Each of the company drew one, and secured thus a patron saint for the year, called a Valentine.

Later, girls’ names were substituted for those of the saints, and were drawn by the masculine merrymakers, who were expected to devote themselves to their respective Valentines for that evening and the rest of the year.

Ideas for a Valentine’s Day Party

Game #1

Victorian Red Heart for Game


Carrying out this old tradition, it is very appropriate to make the first incident of a Valentine evening the choice of partners. As many cards as there are guests should be prepared, with ribbon loops to fasten them on. Half of them, in the shape of Cupids, may be cut out of white card-board; half, in the shape of hearts out of red.

One a Cupid card should be written, in red ink, part of a quotation fitting to the day; on a red heart, in white ink, the rest. Each girl draws a heart, each man a Cupid. The two whose quotations match become partners for the next game.

The quotations may be varied by original verses composed by the hostess if she is quick at rhymes. If not, any book of early lyrics will solve her difficulties. The following quotations will serve as suggestions.

1. On Cupid card:
     Gather ye rose-buds while ye may;
           Old Time is –

On heart card:
             Still a-flying,
     And tis some flower that smiles to-day
           To-morrow will be dying

2. On Cupid card:
     The velvet of the rose, it is not so soft and the fine
           As are the thought of her

On heart card:
           Who is my chosen Valentine

3. On Cupid card:
     Her very frowns are fairer far –

On heart card:
           Than smiles of other maidens are.

4. On Cupid card:
     Be she meeker, kinder than
     Turtle-dove or pelican –

On heart card:
     If she be not so me,
     What care I how kind she be?

5. On heart card:
     Hence to the game! The stake and the throw!
     Cupid’s the arbiter. What’s the lot? to—

On Cupid card:
     Luck’s in the dice! What fortune in mine!
     The fairest of all is my own Valentine.

Unless the guests are very familiar with the selections chosen, it is safer to make their task easier by numbering the two cards in a pair with the same number.

When the partners have come together, they must read their quotations aloud to be sure that they match; then pencils and cards, or pads of paper, should be distributed for the game of inversions.

Game #2

Pads are better than cards, as it may take several attempts to readjust the disordered words. They may be simple paper pads, or with covers as elaborate as the hostess desires. On the outside sheet is printed this list of inverted words:

1. dipcu     2. worar     3 qeuriv     4. tneivlnea     5. yfrbeura     
6. tefraunhet     7 srsoe     8 msepo     9. slagsned.

The game may be played in couples, and prizes given to the two guessing all the words first, or each guest may work alone. If the process of discovering all the words occupies too much time, it is better to stop the game before the guests grow tired and to award the prizes to those who have guessed the largest number. When time is called, the papers should be passed over the next neighbor to the one beyond. In this way no one has a partner’s paper to correct. Then the hostess reads from her key the converted words, which are:

1. Cupid     2. Arrow     3. Quiver     4. Valentine     5. February     
6. Fourteenth     7. Roses     8. Poems     9. Gladness.

The corrected papers are then collected, and another game introduced to ease the weary brains of the guests.

Game #3

Victorian Heart Hunt Game

This is a heart hunt. Each one receives a little tag of red silk to carry out the colors of the evening. Then the whole company is ushered into a moderately small room, where candy hearts with mottoes have been hidden in every imaginable place. Those in plainest sight are often the last to be discovered, and the hunt grows ore and more exciting as the supply grows scarce and rival candidates try to outdo each other. The one finding the most hearts is entitled to a prize, which may be awarded at the end of the evening with the other prizes.

Game #4

Victorian Game - Decent of Man

The next thing on the programme may be planned out definitely before hand, with a prize as its reward, or it may be impromptu, just as the fancy of the hostess dictates. In any case, the original couples, who by this time have drifted well apart, are asked to come together again. They either are told to get ready to act out the title of any book that they can agree upon, or are given a title by the hostess. The couples are numbered, and five minutes given for preparations. All the audience, except couple No. 1 then seat itself to watch the pantomime representation which this couple will attempt to give.

No 2 follows as quickly as possible. Delays and long pauses are to be avoided, and it is wise to have No. 2 getting ready while No. 1 is performing.

We Two (Edna Lyall) is one of the easiest titles to act out. All that is necessary is for the two people to stand in front of the audience. If they wish, they may also holdup two tiny dolls (Wee Two).

Behind Closed Doors is also simple to act out. The couple has only to walk in and out again through the folding doors, or any other convenient doors which can be closed behind them.

The Decent of Man needs only a small stepladder, and a man t climb up and down again, to enact it literally.

Vice Versa may be made very amusing if the couple will put hats on back to front, jackets and coats wrong side out, and aprons upside down. They must back in before the audience and out again, and o anything else possible in just the opposite way from usual..

When this game is over, the company will surely be ready to sit quietly for a while, and do justice to the refreshments prepared for them.

Continue to A Victorian Valentine’s Day Party Menu.

Or for more Victorian Valentine’s Day festivities, see:

More Valentine Day Games for Your Victorian Party

Suggested Prizes for Valentine’s Day Games

A Victorian Valentine Exchange

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