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Love is in the Air!!! Greenburgh Celebrates Valentines ‘ Day
By Riley Wentzler & Felicia Barber
February 14th is Valentines’ Day, a holiday named for Saint Valentine, a Roman martyr, who lived in the third century (MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation). However, most of us know little about the life or accomplishments of this man, and, in truth, probably wouldn’t care to learn these details.
Although, most of us are still very much aware of this holiday as it marks a celebration of the love people share with their romantic partners. This includes the authors, Riley and Felicia, for whom Valentines’ Day marks the anniversary of our engagement. Today people usually show their affection by sending cards or giving gifts, but just how was Valentine’s Day celebrated in Greenburgh in years past? We, the Assistant Town Historians, approached this question the same way we approached the question of Halloween in our article, Joy and Innocence, Mischief and Fear: Halloween in the 20th Century In Greenburgh and Christmas- Hanukkah celebrations in our article, Candle light, electric light, bringing joy to December in Greenburgh, by looking at old newspapers.
1915-year of the Luncheon:
An article from The Tarrytown Daily News dated February 18th 1915, describes a Valentines’ Day Luncheon. A woman invited many guests to her home on Valentines’ Day. She had decorated her dining table with red carnations and an asparagus fern in which she hid several cupid figurines made of plaster. The day before she had mailed packages for each guest to her house.
After dinner and dessert had been served, the doorbell rang, when the maid answered the door, the hostess’ daughter stood there in a postman’s uniform, she handed the packages to the maid who distributed them to the guests. Inside each package was a gag gift uniquely making fun of each individual’s hobby. For example, a guest who liked buying fancy clothes received a box of Milliner’s candy, but she had to unroll lots of wax paper and the box had many flowers and candy ribbons on it. (Tarrytown Daily News, February 18 1915 p.5).
Another smaller, and less elaborate, luncheon would be held by Mrs. Wheeler in 1925. While this, February 14, 1925 article does not report any: cupids, red carnations, or asparagus ferns, hearts were to be seen all around (Tarrytown Daily News February 14 1925 p.5).
1922- The Way to a Woman’s Heart ….. ?
It is often said that, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” but, the question that has vexed many men is, “Ok, so just what is the way to a woman’s heart?” Is it through….
A. her eyes?( giving a her a visual experience such as a: play, or a trip to a beautiful locale like Paris)
B. her nose? (perfume/flowers )
C. her ears? (earrings or music)
An advertisement in the February 8th, 1922 issue of The Tarrytown Daily News appears to answer this age-old question (Tarrytown Daily News February 8 1922 p.6).The ad begins with a poem,
“Dear Valentine ,Say You’ll Be Mine
I’ll be Your Ardent Lover
For Cupid’s Dart,
Has Pierced my Heart.”
Below this poem are the words “Semi-Precious Stones, Set in Beautiful Earrings.” (Tarrytown Daily News February 8 1922 p.6.). So, apparently, the way to a woman’s heart is through……… her ears.
The luncheon fad appears to have ended in 1925 or shortly after. From 1928-1930 a new Valentines’ Day fad replaced the luncheons.
1928-1930 The age of the Comic Strip:
On February 15, 1928 and on February 6, 1930, The Tarrytown Daily News commemorated Valentines’ Day with comic strips. See below:
February 15, 1928:
February 6, 1930: