Boyertown Valentine’s Day traditions starting in the 1920’s


Cheyenne Williams

Candy hearts, a big staple for Valentine’s Day that people give out to each other.

Valentine’s Day is an historic holiday: it’s been celebrated since 496 A.D. in ancient Rome. Historically, Boyertown school district’s celebrations of Valentine’s Day have been recorded in the Cub – the school’s newspaper – as early as 1927, where the seventh grade is described distributing valentines to different students.

Today at BASH, we celebrate Valentine’s Day with a large rose sale and the occasional article about students. However, looking back on traditional events for Valentine’s Day, we can see just how much has changed!

Many different schools are mentioned throughout the Cub’s older articles, including  the Junior High. In 1933, Boyertown Junior High hosted a Valentine’s Day/Easter parade, in which Easter eggs, refreshments, and Valentines were given out, specifically to one “Sis” Houck mentioned in the article. 

Boyertown Area High School has also had various Valentine’s Day festivities. On February 14, 1936 (in the February 21 edition of the Cub, a week later), Boyertown’s ninth grade held a Valentine’s Day party during lunch periods. It looks like, at the time it was written, ninth grade was split into four groups: the article mentions 9-1, 9-2, 9-3, and 9-4 groups all celebrating separately. In other high school festivities, it seems like Valentine’s Day parties and dances both were common. In the 28-year period between 1921 and 1949, two high school Valentine’s Day parties were mentioned. The high school had a Valentine’s Day party schoolwide during the last period of the day in 1936, where postmasters and mail carriers were even appointed to hand out valentines.

In 1938, the BASH Cub released an article titled, “Faculty Members Are Cupid’s Victims” (1938) (The Cub Vol 15, No 4.). While it may seem gruesome, this article was dedicated to the deaths of those staff members who passed away near Valentine’s Day. While they weren’t directly related to Valentine’s Day, the author certainly connected the two. It’s interesting to see the kind of articles written back in the 1930’s.

In 1939, a party was held after school that lasted as long as 2 hours! Refreshments were served and games were played, such as “checkers, Chinese checkers, bingo, Hiram & Mirandy, etc.” The latter, upon further research, was an icebreaker game popular in the 20th century. Prizes were given to the winners of each game. 

Another article found in the Cub relating to Valentine’s Day was in 1941 when “The Junior Class will hold a St. Valentine’s dance in the gymnasium of the High School…” (The Cub Vol 18, No. 6). This was the first of dances that were found in the past articles within the Cub. It’s interesting that the Juniors held the dance. It does make you wonder why we don’t hold Valentine’s Day dances anymore! 

Many Valentine’s day activities also occurred at Washington elementary. On February 16, 1944, the fifth grade art classes at Washington Elementary School “made a Valentine Box and also during their art class they made valentines out of lace doilies. They put verses in the valentines which they gave to their mothers,” says this Cub article from 1944. This sweet gesture from the fifth grade students helped them show appreciation and love to their mothers for everything they’ve done for them. 

The second grade classes had a Valentine’s Day party where they enjoyed fun snacks and activities. “The Second Grade had a good time making a Valentine Post Office which they decorated with red and white hearts. On Monday, they held a Valentine’s Day party.” 

On February 10, 1944, Mrs. Dean Ross held a meeting of the Spaatz Gra-Y Club. She then played a program that related to Valentine’s Day. “She then read a story called ‘The Queen of Hearts.’ A play called Prince Valentine was presented and a group of girls sang a round and a motion song.” The play offered many opportunities for students who enjoy singing and acting to participate in this school activity and give a Valentine’s Day show to the Boyertown community.

In 1944, BASH hosted a leap years dance where girls asked guys. This event was created to celebrate the leap year and Valentine’s Day and was a new idea. This is very different from any other events at BASH because a dance was dedicated for girls to ask guys. “…The Junior Hi-Y is sponsoring a leap year dance on February 18. Come on girls, ask those fellows! You are to call for them and be their escorts all evening.” 

“With money saved by doing your shopping at Le Fevre Brothers buy War Bonds and Stamps. Give her a Hallmark Valentine with that War Bond or, may we suggest a gorgeous bouquet of fresh cut flowers from Kinder’s Flower Shop.” This idea was included in the BASH Cub article to give people the idea to buy flowers for their significant other to celebrate Valentine’s Day. 

An excerpt from a February 6, 1948 edition of the Cub.
(BASH Cub)

In the later half of the 1940s, it seems that the high school began to host Valentine’s Day dances. In a section called “King And Queen To Reign Over Saint Valentine’s Dance”  in 1948, a Valentine’s dance was held. It was a special year because a King and a Queen were elected by the student body for the dance. This dance was sponsored by the senior Tri-Hi-Y.

In 1949, a year after, another Dance was held. It’s mentioned offhand in a late January article, but no mention of the dance itself is actually present in the paper. In a section seemingly advertising different places and shops around Boyertown, a dialogue is presented to carry the plot: two people, Margie and Susie, are having casual conversation. Susie mentions that her mother won’t let her go to the Valentine’s dance if she has an F in Latin! Unfortunately for us readers, we’ll never know if Susie got her grade up or not. 

Overall, throughout the years, the celebration of Valentine’s Day at BASH has changed tremendously. The Cub articles have documented each year how Valentine’s day is celebrated at BASH and in the BASH community. Today, we continue to see some annual traditions that stay with us when celebrating the holiday of love, Valentine’s Day. The past two years, the celebration of Valentine’s Day here at BASH has changed like no other year, as a result of the pandemic. This makes celebrating with our school and the community a much harder challenge and more special this year to get back some normality.