From the Archives: Valentine’s Day
February 14, 2021
Editor’s note: In honor of The Observer’s 40th Anniversary and the ways we have changed and grown in the past four decades, we are taking a tour through selected moments in our archives. The collection below highlights some of The Observer’s past articles covering Valentine’s Day and related events at Fordham. These articles, in chronological order, and any accompanying images appear as they were originally published in The Fordham Observer and have not been altered in any way. Any views or opinions expressed therein were those of the authors at the time and do not necessarily reflect those of the current staff of The Observer Volume XLI. For more content, you can visit The Observer’s digital archive here, and you can read our more recent issues here.
From Features: “Ten Ways to Say I Don’t Love You”
By Mina Landriscina
Feb. 13, 1991. Page 15.
The problem with people and Valentine’s Day is that people in love believe everything they read. Did it not occur to you that your Honey-bunch/Sweetie-pie/Shnok-ums is trying to tell you something other than the “I love you to death” written in the card? Perhaps, Lovey/Darling/Precious prefers you in a nice shade of ice blue? Well then, learn how to interpret your Valentine’s Card (and you might just save yourself a lot of heartache).
- Design: A family of sheep. Mama sheep is in a rocking chair knitting wool off of Papa’s back — leaving a bit exposed and a lot disgruntled. Baby sheep is playing with a ball — oblivious to all.
Message: “Mother and Dad.” Thanks to you, we’ve always been a close-knit family, a little frazzled here and there, but still close-knit!”
Comments: This is a kid’s not-so-subtle way of saying, “Mom and Pop, either patch up those gaps or I’m ba-ba-baling out.”
- Design: On the cover, a woman is contentedly sleeping, but inside, she is wide awake, her eyes resembling golf balls.
Message: “Boss, I dreamed you were my Valentine. Now, I’m afraid to close my eyes.”
Comments: In other words, boss, your hairy werewolf of a face is keeping me up at night. Now, I’m afraid of full moons. Please shave.
- Design: Mechanical hearts full of gadgets and thingamijigs being pointed to by words such as: High Gear, Ticker, Heart of Hearts, Low Gear, Walls of Defense, Memory Storage.
Message: “Valentine, since I’ve given it to you, I thought you should know how it works.”
Comments: There is no doubt about it, Sweet-Cheeks is implying that you don’t know her/him well enough.
- Design: A pink snake hanging off an apple tree and a fat Eve sitting, not too virtuously, underneath it.
Message: “….And then there’s strudel, turnovers, cinnamon crisp, pop-overs and pandowdy. I hope your Valentine is full of temptations.”
Comments: This is Casanova’s way of saying, “You’d be a better temptation if you went to that exercise class that I signed you up for.”
Frank & Ernest, $1.50
- Design: A friendly looking dog on the cover.
Message: “From the Dog. Woof, woof. I’m all excited. I can’t wait to send this special wish your way.”
Comments: When life is loveless, it is alright to pretend that the dog really gives a hoot. But, start seeing a psychologist when your porch begonias start sending engagement rings.
If Luscious-Lips starts talking about switching channels then you have cause to be worried. But, for now, there’s no static. Mina Landriscina
- Design: A T.V. control
Message: “You are like a T.V. remote control, you can turn me on from way clear across the room.”
Comments: If Luscious-Lips starts talking about switching channels then you have cause to be worried. But, for now, there’s no static.
Contemporary Cards, $1.25
- Design: Two monsters are being held back by leashes.
Message: “My thing loves your thing.”
Comments: For once, we have a card that is self-explanatory. Monster love at first sight. It’s just one of those things.
- Design: A cat with a big bow tie.
Message: “Valentine, I’m glad I have you for a cohort. I don’t think I could handle being a hort by myself.”
Comments: “Hort” is definitely growing too dependent. Remove the “co” out of the relationship as soon as possible
- Design: Matchbox racecar and a maze on the inside.
Message: “For a special son.”
Comments: On the surface, the drive-through maze looks like fun. However, at Hallmark this card is filed under A Parent’s Best Revenge. For a change, he will be driven crazy.
- Design: Baby dinosaur is sitting on the outside. Parents and eggshell are on the inside.
Message: “You are obviously the best parents. How else could I have turned out so terrific?”
Comments: What the bouncing baby dino really wants to say is, “Blast it! What could you have been thinking? The water is undrinkable, and the land unfarmable. Why did you bring me here — to go extinct?”
For all cards, red envelopes are included.
“If I had to do it all over again, would I? Absolutely. And is there anyone I’ve met in the past 37 years who compares? Not a bit.” Astrid O’Brien, Associate Professor of Philosophy
From Features: “The Complete, Incomparable, Ultimate Observer Guide to Valentine’s Day” (Excerpt: “True Love”)
By Jane McGonigal
Feb. 11, 1998. Page 10
This Valentine’s Day, two FCLC faculty members will be celebrating nearly four decades of true love. Drs. Robert and Astrid O’Brien, Associate Professors of Philosophy, met in September of 1959 and have been together ever since. Robert O’Brien recalls, “We met when we were hired by Fordham, we did not know each other before then. We were assigned to the same office and the same desk, in the old building down on 302 Broadway. She had one half of the desk, and I had the other. We taught on the same nights, and I saw her to the bus on the way home.” It didn’t take long for the O’Briens to fall in love. They were engaged a few months later and married the following November.
According to Astrid O’Brien, the whole Fordham community was very supportive of their marriage plans. “Several colleagues covered classes for us on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday following our wedding so we could have our honeymoon,” she says. “Then president of the University, Father McGinley, sent us a check for $100 which we used to purchase a desk on which two dissertations were written.”
According to the O’Briens, there are definite benefits to working at FCLC together. “We share the field of philosophy, but she has her specialties and I have my areas,” says Robert O’Brien. “We use each other to fill in our gaps. I do mostly modern (continued on page 11) philosophy, and she’s very good in ancient and medieval philosophy, so we complement each other. If you put us together, we may have one good head!”
Astrid O’Brien says, “We pass students back and forth and say, ‘Have you had this student? Give me some background’ The things you find out can really help the learning procedure.”
3 children and 37 years later, the O’Briens are still happily married. Astrid O’Brien says, “If I had to do it all over again, would I? Absolutely. And is there anyone I’ve met in the past 37 years who compares? Not a bit.”
By Julia Martin
Feb. 9, 2000. Page 12.
Every February across the country candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between sweethearts in the name of Saint Valentine. But can any of us, either those of us eagerly awaiting a token of love or those of us for whom this holiday is dreadfully lonesome, truly claim to know the origin of what we are (or aren’t) celebrating? Well, boys and girls, consider this a crash course in the history of Hallmark’s favorite time of year.
Although it is celebrated as a lover’s holiday today, Valentine’s Day originated in ancient Rome and has roots in both Roman and Christian tradition. In ancient Rome, a fertility festival called Lupercalia was celebrated on February 15. In honor of this pagan celebration, priests would sacrifice a goat and then boys coming-of-age would slice its hide into strips, dipping them into the sacrificial blood. The boys then took to the streets, gently slapping women with the bloody strips (boys, don’t try this at home). Far from being frightened of the bloody greetings, the women eagerly awaited them as signs of fertility for the year to come. Later in the day, young women of the city would place their names in a big urn and the bachelors of the city would randomly choose a name in something that resembled a lottery. The two would be paired for the rest of the year and the courtship often ended in marriage.
On the day of his set execution, February 14, 269 AD, Valentine wrote a letter to the jailer’s daughter and signed it “Love, Your Valentine”. Julia Martin
But where does the name “Valentine” enter the picture? In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius wanted to Christianize the pagan festival of Lupercalia. He chose Saint Valentine’s Day to substitute for the festival. Valentine was a Christian martyr who died on February 14 in 269 AD. He was a priest in Rome during the rule of Claudius II, who was involved in many excessively bloody and unpopular campaigns. Needless to say, men were not exactly lining up to volunteer for the army. Claudius believed that his potential fighters were being distracted by the love of women, and so he outlawed marriage. Valentine, realizing the absurdity and great injustice of the ordinance, continued to unite young lovers in secret candlelit hideouts.
When Claudius caught word of Valentine’s doings, he imprisoned the romantic crusader. While in prison, Valentine converted many inmates and jailers to Christianity. One of the jailers had a daughter with whom Valentine became a great friend. She was blind and legend tells us that through his great faith in God and love for her, Valentine cured her. Soon, Claudius heard of Valentine’s many conversions and unbroken Christian spirit and ordered him to be executed. On the day of his set execution, February 14, 269 AD, Valentine wrote a letter to the jailer’s daughter and signed it “Love, Your Valentine”. The phrase has been used on his day ever since. Even though the Church banned the lottery of women, the holiday in commemoration of Saint Valentine was still used by Roman men to seek the affection of women. They gave the ones they admired hand-written messages of love containing Valentine’s name.
So boys, next time you’re complaining about having to get your significant other yet another Valentine’s Day gift, just be thankful you didn’t have to randomly pick his or her name out of a big urn. And girls, remember, whether or not your sweetie will come through with those dozen roses, at least you’re not getting slapped with bloody strips of hide by random men on the streets of Manhattan. On second thought, this is Manhattan, so who really knows.
From Opinions: “Valentine’s Day Is What You Make It”
By Catherine Davis
Feb. 3, 2011. Page 9.
It is fashionable, in our age of gold stickers and self-affirmation exercises, to condemn Valentine’s Day as a corporate ploy designed to rob us of our self-worth. Every February, I am faced with this rhetoric, and every February I concede to these crusaders of emotional wellness that, yes, this day does come with psychological hazards—if, that is, you take it very seriously.
Of course Valentine’s Day is superficial. Because it is abused. Like all holidays are abused. Like all holidays are reduced to their most hollow functions. Abused not only by those capitalizing on the shallowest aspects of such holidays, but also by people who place such authority on these aspects that they allow themselves to get hurt. Chances are, that person throwing the We Don’t Need Valentines to Feel Good about Ourselves party, was the person who, up until quite recently, believed very strongly that she needed a valentine to feel good about herself.
You are no more or less alone on Valentine’s Day than you are on any other day. Catherine Davis
Certainly, some people have misplaced their priorities. For those wayward souls, the facts:
– There were several Christian martyrs named Valentine. No one is sure what they did. Nothing about any of them was romantic.
– In the 1300s, Chaucer wrote a poem in which birds seek their mates on the Feast of Saint Valentine. The day has since been associated with romance.
– Stores sell pink and red stuff in early January to trick customers into buying things they wouldn’t want in regular colors.
– Expensive gifts do not validate a relationship. Neither do inexpensive gifts.
– You are no more or less alone on Valentine’s Day than you are on any other day.
Understanding this, few occasions put me in as good a mood as Valentine’s Day does. It is an excuse to make cupcakes on a Tuesday and to actually take time to color the frosting. Pencils with heart erasers, nervous teens carrying cheap flowers, Spider Man valentines exchanged between friends too young to understand how complicated the coming years will be—these are the images of a day with no purpose other than to inject some color into the otherwise snow-buried melatonin-haze that is February.
I’ve never had a Valentine myself. Relationships aren’t my strong suit. I fantasize, I romanticize, and I am continually hit over the head with reality. But on Valentine’s Day, I go home alone, rent a good romance, open a bag of chocolate hearts, and am thoroughly content—happy because on this one day a year, if only superficially, the world lives up to my expectations.
Yes, that’s right, Saint Valentine, someone has taken over your holiday, and they go by the name “Hallmark.”Sara Azoulay
From Opinions: “Valentine’s Day Evolves into Hallmark Day”
By Sara Azoulay
Asst. Photo Editor
Feb. 3, 2011. Page 9.
It’s Feb. 14 and a couple enjoys a romantic dinner at a restaurant that required a reservation six months in advance. The lovely lady of the evening opens up her present. Gasp! It’s a necklace with a card attached to the box. She slowly opens the card to find the words, “I love you. Happy Valentine’s Day!” The words aren’t hand written; instead they’re printed on a Hallmark card which includes a picture of a cute teddy bear with a heart on the front cover. Adorable! . . . or completely unoriginal?
I hate to be the one who points this out, but a million other women in America own that same card and might have even gotten that very same necklace.
Yes, that’s right, Saint Valentine, someone has taken over your holiday, and they go by the name “Hallmark.” Some people are terrible at expressing their true emotions so they turn to greeting cards. This is a fine solution for birthdays or Christmas, but for the one holiday dedicated to expressing true and real emotions, there should be more effort. There’s nothing like a Hallmark greeting card to express how not unique your love is. I know, I’m probably one of the last remaining romantics in New York City (we’re a dying breed), but I want to see more love on Valentine’s Day and less gifts and greeting cards.
Why can’t Valentine’s Day be a day to cozy up, watch movies, and dance/goof around with your significant other? Get comfortable and just enjoy each other’s company instead of wasting time buying cards that mean absolutely nothing. Or at the very least, release the arts and crafts side of you and make a completely adorable card that your valentine will treasure forever. The holiday dedicated to love shouldn’t be dedicated to how many diamonds you received on a necklace, which is bound to cost your loved one a pretty penny.
Because Valentine’s Day falls so close to the other major holidays, most wallets across the country probably fear the day and the expensive diamond jewelry it requires. Essentially, there’s only a month to recover from Christmas and New Years. There are already so many holidays focused on gift-giving; Valentine’s Day should be the day to take a break. Love should always be free, so enjoy this Valentine’s Day without worrying about Hallmark cards or expensive jewelry!
From Opinions: “Going the Distance”
By Owen Roche
Feb. 14, 2019. Page 1 and 5.
I am more familiar with the McMahon B stairwell than most who live on the 10th floor.
The dusty, lumpy maroon coverings that grace each flight are actually a welcome sight after a long day of work and classes. The echo-filled, maroon-tiled liminal space filled with people simply passing through is my favorite place to stop and live in the moment.
An odd choice of hangout spot, no?
It may surprise you to learn that I don’t all that much relish sitting down on the top step outside the 10th-floor exit, resting my head awkwardly against the cold railing. When I position and reposition myself in the clinically-lit, altogether uninteresting B stairwell, I wouldn’t blame you if you judged a little. You certainly wouldn’t be the first — many a laundry room-seeker has awkwardly stepped over my sprawled form, and their “what-the-hell-are-you-doing-here” faces are memorable.
I really don’t care. In that dirty, disused stretch of residence hall, I do what I’ve been waiting to do all day.
I call my girlfriend.
She’s the cutest thing I’ve ever laid eyes on and the kind of person who could get that bust of Leon Lowenstein to crack a smile with ease. She makes me want to be a better person with clearer skin and funnier jokes. She amazes me every day with her strength, her resolve and her commitment to others.
Oh, and she’s six hours away by bus. Seven, if traffic is especially bad.
I’ve learned that if you’re planning on sleeping on the bus, get a window seat.Owen Roche
I’ll be honest; when I pictured college life, stairs were not part of the plan. Hour-long phone calls were not what I envisioned. Then again, learning how to love someone on a level I’d never experienced before — all from long distance — wasn’t either.
I’ve learned things I never imagined I’d need to learn.
Things like: Buy your bus tickets very early or last-minute. Anything in between will break the bank harder than need be. Spend your money on the things she mentions in passing over the phone, but there’s a great flower shop near the place where she’ll pick you up, just in case.
I’ve learned when’s best to send a paragraph of motivation over text, the best times for 15-minute phone calls and the right moment to buy a spontaneous midnight bus ticket two hours before departure.
I’ve learned that if you’re planning on sleeping on the bus, get a window seat. Ball up a jacket and use it as a pillow as you lean against the window. Try to contain your excitement at being so desperately close to actually seeing and touching your significant other, and get some sleep. If the sweet old lady next to you ends up falling asleep on your shoulder, well, that’s just the way it goes. It makes for a good story to tell one day.
I’ve learned that a long-distance relationship is tough. There is a lot of time, space and telephone silence for doubt to creep in. Schedules evade each other as texts get short and “I” sometimes gets dropped off of “love you.” You blame them for having a life, making friends without you, and you hate something, but you can’t put your finger on what exactly it is, but you’re sure it’s not them, right?
And when you do it for a long time — this commitment to love someone who you only see in your wildest dreams — you learn that cellphones make your voice garbled enough that it pays to be genuine.
When you recline on the dusty steps of Stairwell B and call that person who may very well be waiting for their phone to light up with your name, you learn to talk about fear.
My authority on long-distance relationships — that is, simply that I am in one — hangs by a thread. A lot of the time, it seems that the only way I can justify my relationship is simply because it’s still standing. If the bedrock that has supported us so far reveals deadly faults, poof — it’s over. I’m no longer a shining example of how love can withstand anything. I’m just a kid who wasted time and money on something silly.
I fear that all of this will come to nothing. That one day, a misunderstanding will snowball into a week of silence and a fatal phone call where neither of us says what’s really on our minds.
I fear leaning up against the cold cinder blocks of the B stairwell and staring at the phone, daring it to play her voice on speaker again. Saying anything but “goodbye.”
I fear reading these words one day and feeling bitter enough to post a correction. “EDITOR’S NOTE: They broke up. Don’t bother reading. It wasn’t worth it.”
Maybe I’ll look like a fool. Maybe it’ll work out in the end. Maybe we’ll end up together. Maybe we figure out we’ve become two different people after growing up and apart. But I promised myself that I would support this relationship with everything in me until I woke up one day and didn’t feel that desire any more.
Today, I woke up at 7 a.m. to a blinking indicator light on my phone. One new text message, 6:30 a.m.
“Hey you! Good morning! Have a great day today, okay? I love you :)”
Today, I woke up and knew I was doing the right thing. Today, I felt the familiar certainty that tells me all those Greyhound rides are worth it. That every last phone call and bus station goodbye has been worth it. That she is worth it.
I don’t know how this will end, but something tells me there’s only one way to find out. The space between us is up for us to fill — and doubt always threatens to seep in — but day by day, bit by bit, we fill that space with love.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a call to make — and a bus to catch.
Editor’s Note: They broke up. This story is still worth reading. We grow as human beings only when we love deeply, supremely and without fear. Find someone worth writing about.
Read some of The Observer’s most recent Valentine’s Day coverage here.