Mainers celebrated Valentine’s Day 100 years ago in much the same way as they do today — with cards, flowers, candy, gifts and other romantic gestures to let their loved ones know how much they mean to them.

It’s a centuries-old tradition that people still love to follow, even as some feel it’s just another commercialized excuse to buy stuff. But it’s the thought that counts, and even the most cynical person might crack a smile if someone who loves them gave them a little something to let them know they care.

Credit: Carroll Hall / BDN

Before the Bangor Police Department had its mascot the Duck of Justice, it apparently had Snapper, a cat mascot, who received Valentines from the community in the 1950s.

Pictured: Snapper, the Bangor police department mascot in 1957, examines a valentine from her secret admirer, Thumper, in this BDN historic file photo.

And Valentine’s Day has always been a reason to throw a party or a dance — or even a fashion show.

Members of the Maine chapter of Beta Sigma Phi, a non-academic sorority, held a Valentine’s Day dance at the Brewer Auditorium in 1971. Left to right are pictured Mrs. Richard Fitzgerald, Mrs. William Adams and Mrs Alvin Trask. It was still a custom at that time to not give women’s names and instead to refer to them by their husband’s names.
The newly-opened Bounty Tavern at the Bangor Sheraton held a Valentine’s Day fashion show in 1974, showcasing the latest cruisewear and resort collections available at Sleeper’s in Bangor. Here, Sue Nygren poses next to one of the Bounty’s nautical-themed displays during the show. Credit: BDN File Photo
The NRA club of the Brewer Y-Teens held a Valentine party at the YWCA Friday evening, Feb. 13, 1953 and crowned Dean Hayden and Linda Collette Valentine King and Queen. In the picture are Rachelle Fortier (left), advisor, Collette, and Hayden. Credit: Danny Maher / BDN

In elementary school, even today, kids still swap Valentines — homemade, purchased from a store or both.

Pictured: A Bangor schools student is shocked by the huge box of chocolates she received from a classmate on Valentine’s Day 1972. Credit: BDN File Photo

Credit: BDN File Photo

It doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s nice to be remembered

Edith May Hand of Carmel celebrated her 95th birthday on Valentine’s Day in 1970. She was born in 1875. Credit: BDN File Photo
Mrs. Smith — no first name was given — shows off the 50-year-old Valentine cards she found in her attic in Hampden in 1972. Credit: BDN File Photo

Some routinely popular V-Day gifts and experiences in Maine for years have been things like the annual Father-Daughter dance put on by Bangor Parks and Recreation — which was held last weekend, the first such event since the pandemic — local barbershop quartets offering singing Valentines to unexpecting recipients, and pet-centric events like the canine kissing contest held in Portland.

Clockwise, from left: Aliex Johnston 5, of Bangor rests her head on the shoulder of her father, Dan Buck, during the annual father- daughter Valentine’s Dance at the Bangor Civic Center in 2001. Credit: Caleb Raynor / BDN; Linda Walton of Saco gets a winning 45-second smooch from her 12-year-old dog Beau Tuesday night Feb. 12, 2013 at the 9th Annual Valentine’s Day Canine Kissing Contest and Cocktail Party at the Planet Dog Company Store in Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN; Sarah Coffin of Orrington, store operations manager at A.C. Moore in Bangor, is surprised by the singing quartet Essex Street Junction as they serenade her with “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” in the middle of the store in February 2010. Credit: Kevin Bennett / BDN

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.