Is Valentine’s Day A Necessity?

On Friday, I started my morning by reading Doug Peterson‘s This Week In Ontario Edublogs post. One of the blog posts that he featured in here was a recent one by Kelly McLaughlin about Valentine’s Day. It’s one that I’ve returned to a few times now, especially when considering these tweets that I sent out on Thursday evening.

The most interesting part about these tweets are the replies that I got to them. Here are the screenshots of all of these replies, many of which include a similar message: there is little child interest or demand for Valentine’s Day this year.

As I’ve blogged about before, I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. I crave routine, and the variations in routine on a “party day” become too much for me. Add in the sugar highs, and this is usually a day where I’m counting down the minutes until the end-of-the-day bell rings — which is so not like me. I did love our World’s Smallest Valentine’s Day space from years ago, but with social distancing, I wonder if we’ll ever get an area like this back again.

Now though comes our conundrum: knowing that the Kindergarten Program Document is all about following the child’s lead, if children are not seeking to celebrate Valentine’s Day, could we skip it?

All year long, we support students in celebrating friendship, exhibiting kindness, and giving to others. Children have been wrapping gifts for each other, for their parents, and for the fairies for months now. We always have cards and envelopes out, and children write notes almost every day to somebody.

I think about this most amazing moment from the end of the day on Friday.

My teaching partner, Paula, and I are all about exposing students to new experiences to help build schema and generate new interests, but is Valentine’s Day an experience that needs to be explored on a large scale at school or could the topics of “love” and “friendship” be supported in other ways instead?

Here’s what we decided to do to safely celebrate Valentine’s Day this year for those students that are interested.

We know that some of our children will get Valentine’s Day gifts at home in the morning, which will likely generate discussion at school tomorrow. And so, we’re going to look at Jim Dine and Romero Britto‘s heart art. We’re also going to look at more Olympic provocations to align with this evolving student interest, stemming from the Fairy Sports Stadium and an end to lockdown in Fairy Village.

As always, we’ll try to observe and follow the lead of the child: maybe this will be down the path of hearts and Valentines, maybe it will be down the path of sports and the Olympics, or maybe it will be down a different path altogether. I keep thinking about the title of Kelly’s post inspired by a conversation with her intermediate students: “I’ve been forced to celebrate Valentine’s Day all my life!” As educators, if we are forcing this, then why, and could COVID be supporting us in considering a different approach? The concern might be what’s lost if Valentine’s Day celebrations are no longer a school focus, but I have to wonder what might be gained.


6 thoughts on “Is Valentine’s Day A Necessity?

  1. I suspect that, as long as there are parents that have celebrated Valentine’s Day, there will be a push to keep it going. I do remember as a kid going and buying those collections of paper Valentines and carefully making sure that I gave the right one to the right person. You didn’t want a girl to think you liked her. I can also remember as a youngster having to learn how to spell people’s names correctly for the first time because this was mission critical. You don’t mess up names. Of course, there was the compulsory decorating of the paper bag to be stuck onto our desks. I don’t have a recollection of candy at the time; it was something that our parents gave us.

    I do also remember a conversation with our Minister about St. Valentine – and there’s a powerful message there about him that really didn’t ring consistent with what we were doing in schools. Perhaps that’s a better direction for the day.

    It’s interesting that you point your finger at a store as an entity that keeps this going. On a recent stroll through town, they’re really the only entity that has decorations up.

    Of course, on February 15, they’ll change from red to green. You can’t win. You’re probably better off emotionally to go with the flow on this one, Aviva.

    • Thanks Doug for sharing your experiences with Valentine’s Day. I had to nod along to much of what you said in the first paragraph. Even as a teacher, I’ve been reluctant for many years to give valentines to kids. What message is being shared in each card, and what message do I want to be shared? I used to buy little packages of Smarties and create my own labels for them. Now we kind of downplay the exchange of treats, and in the past couple of years, the exchange of cards. Some kids will make presents for others in class, but that’s about it.

      I have no doubt though that there will be some dysregulation tomorrow regardless of if we make the day all about Valentine’s Day or not. I know to just take a few extra breaths and maybe have a little extra coffee. Now here’s to hoping that we can get the temperature above -20 with windchill, so that we can get outside. That might be the key to tomorrow. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for sending along the article on St. Valentine. I’ve never read this before. I’m off to read it now. Have a great night!

      P.S. Whose idea was it to make the Super Bowl the day before Valentine’s Day? It seems to me that there will be some additional dysregulation with tired kids and staff followed by an upside down kind of day. πŸ™‚

  2. Well, I’m guessing it wasn’t St. Valentine! Many people, I’m guessing, would like to dine out when a day like Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday since many restaurants close on Monday.

    • Haha! Great points, Doug! My mom’s birthday is a couple of days past Valentine’s Day, and I know that the weekend before has always been a busy one at restaurants for any kind of celebration. With COVID restrictions, I can just imagine how busy things are now.


    • Thanks so much for your comment, Monica, and for linking this video here. I remember seeing it before, and it’s such a great perspective. I love Karyn’s thinking.


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