When I was four, we had for some reason a mailbag lying around the house. On Valentines day 1962, my Mom "helped" me write Valentines to all the kids on our street and she then put them one at a time into the mailbag and I hand delivered them. This being the baby boom there were lots of kids. I had so much fun I even delivered them to the kids I didn't like. Many years later my mother ran into one of the mothers on our street who still remembered me and the mailbag delivering my Valentines.
In elementary school, you either gave out Valentines to the whole class or curiously to all the people of the same sex in your class. No boys liked girls then, we all knew that we would eventually marry one although we couldn't figure out why? It was of course embarrassing to get a Valentine from a girl and these usually ended up in the wastepaper basket so my older brothers wouldn't read them.
We certainly didn't have Valentines in junior high or high school. The schools some years had Valentines dances.
Likewise in University there often was a Valentines dance some time around Valentines day but except for the decor, it differed little from social functions where we (always) got drunk and (seldom) met girls.
In second year medical the men in our class actually prepared a Valentines slide show for the women in our class. The central theme was various members of our class posing naked with a large red Valentine covering their members. The Valentine read "Have we got a heart on for you!". (I wasn't one of the models. At the party where the pictures we taken I had already passed out.) I suspect today such a slide show would earn the perpetrators a visit to the Dean's office and maybe even a few weeks of sensitivity training.
Time went on, I actually met someone at a drunken social function, got married, had kids, a career etc. Somewhere along the line, I missed something and Valentines Day became an adult occasion. (I suspect a holiday with vaguely Christian roots, celebrating the difference in the sexes is now verboten in the schools.) In fact I have recently seen signs in stores proclaiming Valentine's Week!
I read this interesting article in the Globe last week
The Valentine's Dinner has of course become a duty for most adults. These now have to booked months in advance. As the article points out most couples (except for the guy getting the blow job) don't really seem to be having a good time. I guess the point is that if there is very little romance in your relationship, what makes you think that a dinner with a bunch of other couples once a year is going to fix things?
One does have to feel sorry for the chocolate, greeting card and lingerie manufacturers for whom this is one of the biggest sales days but is it time we gave this special event back to the children. Assuming they even want it.