Valentine’s Day in the ’60s: Handmade cards, chocolates and ‘Beatlemania’

Making handmade cards for Valentine's Day was popular during the 1960s. Source: Getty

For Baby Boomers, Valentine’s Day may not seem all that important, in fact, new statistics have revealed Boomers spend the least on presents on February 14, but it wasn’t always this way.

When those, now aged over 60 were kids and teens, gifting a handmade card or present was an exciting experience and one they took much pride in each year. In primary school days, and maybe even the early years of high school, a whole lesson was dedicated to cutting love hearts and writing messages for classmates as part of Valentine’s Day celebrations.

You’d carefully fold the colourful paper in half vertically, then cut half of the shape and voila you had a beautiful heart before you (maybe not, but it’s the thought that counts right?). To share the love around you generally had to make a card for everyone in your class, but you could sneakily make your crush’s card that extra bit special (oh, young love!).

Then you’d bring an old shoebox from home, cut a slip in the side and decorate it with more love hearts to create a letterbox where everyone could place their cards. If you were lucky, the mums who loved to cook would bake cupcakes and cookies to share with everyone, decorated in pink and red. Or, if you wanted to go all out, you’d make your own chocolate box and fill it with sweets.

If you were lucky, you’d receive a box of chocolates. Source: Getty

For the teens, handmade items kind of went out of the window, but there were still shelves filled with pre-made cards to choose from that included some long-winded description of love and how much they meant to you. And you know who received a lot of loved-up Valentine’s Day cards in the ’60s? The Beatles.

The rock band formed in 1960, but quickly gained fans and hence Beatlemania began. Teens had posters of the group pinned to their walls, staring dreamingly at them each day and wishing they could call Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr or John Lennon their boyfriend. As Valentine’s Day approached, many young women from across the world carefully wrote out their special cards in hopes they’d capture one of the band member’s hearts.

Another favourite pressie, that’s still popular today, was chocolates. Photos from the ’60s show people lining up in the lolly shop in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day, carefully picking out their favourite ones to gift their loved one. This is a tradition, that for some, has carried on for years on end.

The secretary of The Beatles fan club, surrounded by hundreds of Valentine’s cards sent to the group by their adoring fans. Source: Getty

But, it seems males weren’t always the greatest at acknowledging the day of love as women, as a number of Starts at 60 community bloggers have explained.

“I got a folded piece of cardboard from a boyfriend (who later became my husband),” Lyn Fletcher said. “Inside was written, ‘this is NOT a Valentine’s card'”.

While Sue Leighton said: “I might have got the odd Valentine’s Day card… it wasn’t a big thing in the ’60s.” And Jennifer Lockhart added: “I have never received or given a Valentine’s gift.”

This approach has appeared to rub off on all over-60s over the years, perhaps because people have been married for years and believe they don’t need to spoil their loved one on just one day, or maybe they’d just rather spend their money on something else!

Nowadays, Baby Boomers are in fact considered the generation which spends the least on Valentine’s Day presents, according to a survey carried out by Finder. Researchers found Millennials spend an average of  $238 on a gift for the big day, compared to $104 for Baby Boomers.

Spending habits also differed according to the item being bought, but the trend remained the same: younger people spend more. However, the presents the over-60s did buy were large, romantic getaways, jewellery and tickets to events.

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