The first time my son brought home valentines from school I realized what a great snapshot of pop culture they were. For the next few years, I’d pull out a few valentines he’d received from classmates and create a scrapbook page with them. (Back then, I somehow managed to find time to keep a scrapbook.) Here’s a page from 2001. One look at this and you can see what was hot with the kindergarten set and beyond.
Last weekend when my parents came to visit, I had a similar gift delivered. Unbeknownst to me, my mother had saved the valentines from my classmates!
It was fun looking through them. I remember that a lot of the valentines we bought back then were printed in over-sized paperback books with several to a page. We had to cut or punch them out. Some were adorable! Some were politically incorrect. Puns were as popular then as they are now. Why are puns connected to this holiday? I think it’s because they make it easy to show a little wit while also showing sentiment. Here are some favorites from the group above. (Not sure you’d see one like the top center today… and I think we know the identity of bat girl now…)
Puns are also a form of humor accessible to children, offering a word game they can participate in, either by appreciating a pun with a smile, or by creating their own puns. My mother was making valentines with my eight year old niece this year. My niece asked what her cousin liked best, my mother said, “peace signs.” My niece responded, “Why don’t I make her one that says, I love you to peaces?” Perfect!
After hearing this story, it occurred to me that this could be a fun word game to play with children. Why not create Valentines for their favorite characters from literature? What would Harry’s valentine to Jenny say? What would Peeta’s valentine to Katniss say? How about Peter Pan’s to Wendy?
If you don’t have a pun ready for your young or old valentine yet, check out this list of 101 Valentine’s Day puns!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Keep playing with (and on) words!