What Valentine’s Day Looked Like the Year You Were Born
You'll fall in love with this album of vintage Valentine's Day photos, starting with shots from the 1940s.
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This vintage Valentine’s Day photo is from the Golden Gate International Exposition, a World’s Fair held on Treasure Island in San Francisco. (The bikini wasn’t invented until 1946!)
The most popular Valentine’s candy has certainly changed over the years, but it’s hard to go wrong with a heart-shaped box of chocolates.
Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) joins Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) at the piano to share a Valentine’s Day card in Holiday Inn. This film is best known for another holiday, though—Irving Berlin wrote the song “White Christmas” for this 1942 musical.
Even during WWII, US soldiers overseas were able to send Valentine’s cards to sweethearts back home.
This handmade vintage Valentine’s Day card is something special!
In the 1940s, wartime paper shortages reduced the production of valentines. But PFC Dorothy LeRoy was able to pose in this oversized Valentine’s Day card at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C.
This couple is spending an afternoon in the Bois de Boulogne, a park in the most romantic city in the world: Paris.
Even in the 1940s, baking heart-shaped cookies was a popular pastime on Valentine’s Day.
Dorothy Abbott, a popular American actress in the ’40s and ’50s, sips an ice-cream soda in a soda fountain.
Johnny McBride, 5, appeared on Juvenile Jury, a popular children’s game show, to deliver this valentine to his sweetheart. (According to Johnny, the direct approach is always best.)
This woman made heart-shaped cards for her loved ones. You can celebrate V-Day with crafts, too.
In the early 1950s, wedding gowns had a small waist and full skirt and featured a lot of lace. What a romantic wedding date!
Valentine’s Day was a popular holiday for adults—until the baby boomers came along. That’s when kids began to exchange handmade cards.
The girls here are dressed up for the Valentine Ball, a popular dance at the Bel-Air Bay Club in Los Angeles.
This couple is posing in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris during the Valentine’s Day Lovers Contest. No word on who won, though.
Valentine’s Day cards have been mass-produced in the US since the 1800s. Love the look? You can still find vintage valentines on Etsy and eBay.
After World War II, sending a valentine to everyone in the classroom (including the teacher!) became a popular tradition.
This young woman is serving punch at a Valentine’s Day party—or was it a Galentine’s Day party?
It turns out that Valentine’s Day Christmas trees have been a thing since 1958.
This fella is gifting a box of chocolates to his valentine. But if that won’t do for you, take a peek at our list of Valentine’s Day gift ideas.
This photo from the early ’60s proves that Valentine’s Day cards have always been a school project.
Nancy Walters, a model and actress, holds a heart-shaped box of chocolate on Valentine’s Day. (If you’re a vintage film aficionado, you may recognize her from Blue Hawaii.)
The look of Valentine’s Day chocolate sure has changed a lot since the 1960s.
This photo appeared in the Denver Post on February 13, 1963. The original caption read, “Mrs. C.F. Decker, 1745 S. Shoshone St., and her children, Cassandra, 4, and Brent, 3, think the candy is dandy in the Hested store display of Valentine’s Day goodies; but wow! what a tough decision it poses.”
This shot from 1964 shows the secretary of the Beatles fan club surrounded by hundreds of Valentine’s cards sent by adoring fans.
You can’t skip a Valentine’s Day gift for your pet!
1,750 people attended this $125-a-couple Valentine’s Day dinner. $125 in 1966 is equivalent to over $1,000 in 2022!
Suzi Fahey had a dream job in the ’60s—she designed valentines.
This pin factory worker in Tennessee is keeping an eye on a nearly endless line of heart-shaped containers. The containers would eventually be filled with straight pins for Valentine’s Day.
This Inuit-style nose kiss between two preschoolers is pretty cute. Even cuter—the children attended Pooh Corner Preschool.
Even in 1970, it was tough to choose the right card!
This comically oversized Valentine’s Day card definitely has a pun inside.
In Denver, this duo is working on handmade Valentine’s Day favors for nursing home residents.
Donny Osmond was up to his waist in fan mail and valentines cards.
This water ski show in Cypress Gardens, Florida features two cupids taking aim—and they’re skiing backwards!
The student presidents at Merrill Junior High cut hearts to make lollipop valentines.
American singer (and Judy Garland’s daughter) Lorna Luft tied the knot on Valentine’s Day in 1977.
Remember decorating a shoebox for your desk to hold valentines? It didn’t take long for manufacturers to catch on to the trend and start producing sets of valentines with cards for the whole class, like this set of Disney-themed Valentine’s Day cards. (Remind us to look for this set of vintage Valentines on Etsy.)
Students at Denver East High School gave blood on Valentine’s Day as part of student body’s “Have a Heart, Give Blood and Save a Heart Program.” Love to see it!
This photo was captured the day before Valentine’s Day at See’s Candy in San Francisco.
Even Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy celebrate Valentine’s Day.
The small French village of Saint-Valentin is the perfect spot for a romantic photo op.
Frank Sinatra hobnobs with actress Angie Dickinson and former President Gerald Ford during a “Frank and His Friends” event on Valentine’s Day.
This teacher decided to skip Christmas cards and send valentines instead. She sent about 99!
This kiddo in Toronto delivered a Valentine’s Day greeting to an elephant at the zoo—and got a big kiss in return.
Even First Lady Nancy Reagan had to pick up valentines—but she got to bring her dog Rex on the errand.
In Toronto, an experiment added a day care to a nursing home to team up the young and the old. This three-year-old made a card for an 87-year-old resident and our hearts are melting.
This sandy message might be even better than a card.
Every couple in this photo was married in Toronto on Valentine’s Day. You’ll never forget an anniversary of 2/14!
This splurge-worthy chocolate record was priced at $7.95.
Thousands of people gathered in the outfield of Sky Sox Stadium in Colorado Springs to create a human valentine for US troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. (The first part of the message, KKFM, was the radio station that sponsored this act of kindness.)
A young couple posed for a sweet Valentine’s Day photo. It was 1992, so they had to have a photographer and a tripod to capture this shot!
Sophia Loren celebrated Valentine’s Day with a luncheon in her honor—and one of her guests was former first lady Nancy Reagan. We’re in love with Sophia’s very generous shoulder pads!
The classic Valentine’s Day gift is a bouquet of flowers. But we wouldn’t say no to a pickle bouquet.
This mom is helping her kids fill out valentines—one for every student in the class. That’s a lot of love!
’90s kids show off crafty handmade valentines—and then it’s off to the lunchroom for a PB&J and some Dunkaroos.
Diana, Princess of Wales, received a handmade Valentine’s Day card from a 16-year-old at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Princess Di frequently visited this children’s hospital—it was one of her favorite charities to support.
This has to be the best way to say “Happy Valentine”s Day” from the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan!
This couple renewed their vows on Valentine’s Day on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Yes, the costumes are all handmade.
The heart-shaped box of chocolates is a timeless Valentine’s Day gift. See which brand won our Valentine’s Day chocolate taste test.