The mere mention of Valentine’s Day sends me back to my days in Secondary school and the buzz of excitement about Valentine cards.


Anticipation of the big day would start the minute February arrived and after-school activity centred on visiting all the card shops in town to gaze in secret hope at all the heart covered cards, especially the big cushioned ones that were displayed in their boxes on high shelves well away from our sticky, chalky fingers.

It was always about two days before the big day that the first Valentine would do the rounds in the classroom as one of the girls rushed in with a HUGE envelope ~ her cheeks flushed and matching the love hearts and the red S.W.A.L.K. that was now like a patchwork of romance.

I’d laugh and smile with the rest of them as I read the card with its flowery rhymes, hand-drawn hearts and the inevitable Guess Who? 

Year after year after year, I’d watch our letter box with aching hope but it wasn’t to be. Of course, my sympathetic mother tried sending me a few but I had to tell her that there was no use trying to cod me and she eventually gave me that knowing look of hers …..

While I’ll never know how many of the school day Valentine’s Day cards were real or mothered, I know for sure that I’m facing into yet another no-show Valentine’s Day. Hubby, of almost twenty-five years, scoffs at Valentine’s Day and contends that it’s all a racket to sell chocolates and red roses and that love isn’t a one day wonder that comes SWALKing in on February 14th.

Oh I know he’s right, I know, I know, I know …..

Now, lest you think I haven’t learned to cope with this, let me assure you that I am Ms. Valentine when it comes to forward planning for the no-show day.  This year, I’ve already stocked up on heart-shaped chocolate marshmallows, hanging heart ear rings, a fascinating book called Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper by Alexandra Harris and a ticket to my heart throb, Finbar Wright’s Valentine Eve Concert at the Theatre Royal in Waterford.

So go on tell me what Valentine’s Day was like for you as a teenager? 




Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

51 thoughts on “S.W.A.L.K.”

  1. My favorite Valentines’ Day was in elementary school..The teacher would assist us in making a Valentine box covered with Crepe paper and streamers and Valentine cutouts. It had a slit on the top and the students would put their valentines into it. Then on the special day it would be opened and students were picked to deliver the valentines ..of course some got more than the others. We would have cookies, or cupcakes and juice. We had brown paper bags that we decorated to take home the Valentines. This was one of my favorite special days at school. I always gave a Valentine to each student no matter whether or not I was friends with them. As a teenager I didn’t do Valentines Day ..they had a Valentine Day dance but because I was on the shy side I never went to these…My best Valentine was meeting my husband as it was a blind date and I kind of knew who he was..his cousin arranged the meeting and she went on the blind date with her date ..We went to a drive-in movie. We did watch the movie though her date was a little more aggressive than she liked. When I think back to that date I always chuckle to myself…How silly teenage girls were ..afraid to eat in front of their dates, afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. Today things are alot different ..no holding back.

    1. Joni, that sounds like a great tradition in your school. I’m not surprised you liked it.
      And the blind date Valentines must have been fun. We don’t have drive in movies here. Never did. I was stunned when I was told about them. So is Valentine’s very romantic for the pair of you still?

      1. Yes it is especially when my husband of almost 56 years says would you like to go out for dinner, which we did and enjoyed our lunch and drive…Love has many moods which changed over the years but the memories linger on.

    2. My school did the same as Joni’s with the Valentine Mailbox and all of us taking home little Valentine cards in decorated paper bags. As a teen, I don’t think I ever had a boyfriend who gave me anything for Valentine’s Day. My first husband wasn’t into the Valentine present things either. I remember sitting at work and seeing some of the other secretaries receive flowers, candy, balloons and wishing my husband would surprise me with that just one time. My second husband usually bought me flowers or candy, but it seemed more of an obligation than heartfelt to me at the time. Now, my kids always do something for me for Valentine’s Day, and that love is the best love of all. And two years ago my daughter gave me the best Valentine, my granddaughter, born on Feb. 15. Little Alexandra came in on a wave of love, and she’s a little love bunny, charming everyone.

  2. Valentine’s day was relegated to primary school with the fun little cards. All that stopped in grade 9 unless you had a girlfriend then the grown up cards are the only thing that would do and so the tradition continues during adulthood unless you have a boyfriend or a husband who has lost the zest for Valentine’s day. What is with these people that can’t even give one rose or a box of chocolate. Ba humbug to them. Love the video

    1. Joseph, I must stress that hubby never had a zest for Valentine’s Day and is Mr Generosity. I think people like him feel that there’s a shallowness to the red rose brigade and would prefer to be loving in a different way. He’s not into birthdays either, especially his own!

  3. I had completely forgotten and now those memories come flooding back. Into Kay’s at the cross or The Bookshop or Post Office on Queen Street to look at all the cards especially those big cushioned ones kept up on the high shelves. We have something in common Finbar was a heartthrob of mine too I have all his CDs, autograph and he even waltzed with me at a concert in the Theatre Royal. I had a lovely notebook which I added my Valentine verses to from year to year so now I am off in search for that notebook and will turn on a Finbar Wright CD. Enjoy the concert……

  4. I’ve not heard of Finbar for a long time. I read his autobiography many years ago and it was one of the best I ever read. Enjoy your Valentines day and whatever it may bring

  5. Hi there,
    No valentines for me at school either, in fact, I didnt receive my first valentine card until I was engaged:) but I did have a couple of special boyfriends and I didnt feel like I’d missed out then…love the Fibar Wright song…saved now to my favs:):)

  6. “Loved” your Valentine’s discussion — funny, I can’t remember high school or college Valentines but I do have hazy memories of grade school classes with cupcakes and little heart candies stuck into the frosting… the candies with writing on them. The boys always mocked the lovey sayings, so we girls curated them to include just the vaguely friendly or funny ones, no lovey stuff.

    1. Hi Sandy, it’s interesting how our memories of things differ.
      I have no recall whatever of Valentine’s Days pre-Second level school (12-18 year olds). I think we mustn’t have had anything remotely to do with it prior to age 12!
      The little heart candles sound lovely!

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