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Love on the Hill: A look at Valentine’s Day on campus and beyond

History of Feb. 14 festivities on campus dates back at least to late 1800s

From singing telegrams by the Ursa Minors to romantic messages published in The Herald in the 1970s, students at Brown have celebrated Valentine’s Day heartily throughout the University’s history.

This year, students are marking Valentine’s Day by sharing candy with peers, buying bouquets for their special someone and — for those hoping to find someone to spend the day with — participating in the annual Datamatch survey.

‘Exploration of love’: History of Feb. 14 for Brown students

The Herald first described Valentine’s Day festivities on campus as early as 1897, when students at the University’s then-unnamed women’s college held a “St. Valentine’s party to the Sophomores … on Congdon Street.” The party, according to The Herald, “was a great success.”


A number of Valentine’s Day campus dances followed through the 20th century.

Two days before Valentine’s Day in 1937, the Chemistry Club announced its inaugural Valentine dance, attended by both students and faculty in “strictly informal” attire. In 1942, the University Glee Club partnered with the glee club of Simmons College to host a Valentine’s Day dance at Faunce House and a performance at the Rhode Island School of Design Auditorium.

In 1986, a student organization called Students Against Multiple Sclerosis held an event called “The Heart of Rock N’ Roll” on Valentine’s Day to raise money to fight MS, constructing a “huge heart” on the Main Green and filling it with quarters. And on Valentine’s Day 2000, a Valentine’s Day Dance took place in Sayles Hall featuring “a multimedia exploration of love” and performances by faculty and students. 

Flowers, chocolate and student sentiment

Flowers are a quintessential part of Valentine’s Day — and, for flower shops nationally, the biggest day of the year for business, according to the Society of American Florists.

At Bloom Back Flowers, owner and designer Angela Rotondo said that Mother’s Day and Christmas are bigger days, partially because her shop mostly does events. Still, she said she appreciates the holiday as a “nice time to get together and show your love for somebody” — and added that botanical displays of affection can apply to kids and parents, too.

While Rotondo thinks the holiday has become commercialized, she enjoys offering more unconventional flowers to “break away from the traditional dozen roses.” She has also seen her customers getting more creative in the flowers they purchase and developing a greater appreciation for different varieties of flowers.  

Valentine’s Day also holds different meanings for students: For Jerry Quan ’26, the holiday is mainly associated with candy and sharing letters, but he also thinks that companies strive to market the holiday to increase their sales.

Olivia Nash ’24 said she enjoys the chocolates that the holiday brings, though it does feel “like every other day for someone who's not in a relationship,” she said. 

To Chris Schuetz ’26, Valentine’s Day “is something very nice if you have someone to celebrate it with.”


“It's like a checkpoint to see how your life is going in terms of relationships,” he said. “And it's really fun.”

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Neil Mehta

Neil Mehta is a University News section editor covering Institutional Equity and Student Affinity at The Brown Daily Herald. He also serves as the 133rd Editorial Board's design chief. He is a sophomore from Stony Brook, NY studying public health. Outside the office, you can find Neil baking, reading YA fiction and playing Tetris.

Rhea Rasquinha

Rhea Rasquinha is a Metro section editor covering the College Hill, Fox Point & the Jewelry District and Brown & Beyond beats. She also serves as an illustrator. She is a sophomore from New York studying Biomedical Engineering and loves dark chocolate and penguins. 

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