Candy, Kisses, and Kindness: Interviews with a 1st, 6th, and 12th Grader about Valentine’s Day


Julien Amsellem, Managing Editor

Valentine’s Day has its significance as a day of remembrance for Saint Valentine, a 3rd century Roman saint and martyr who served as clergy for Christians undergoing persecution. 

But, like the evolution of most sacred traditions, this holy day of feasts in Valentine’s honor has undergone a stark transformation. For the kids, it’s about the candy, pure and simple. For the romantics, Valentine’s Day is when true love blossoms, where hearts open and meld in a mesmerizing swirl of pink, rose petals, and the effervescence of amour

And so, like the evolution of this holiday throughout time, the conception of Valentine’s Day is one that changes as we age, where aspirations that may begin in search of a simple Hershey’s Kiss may end up hoping for that one perfect Valentine. 

The launchpad for this Valentine’s journey can be found in Hillside Elementary, with Max Godfrey, a student from Mrs. Gunther’s first-grade class. While Max loves math, his face brightened —every so slightly —when the topic of Valentine’s Day was broached. Upon mention of the holiday, Max explained that he believed the day was about “remembering people who lived long ago and celebrating.” 

For Max, as the day approaches, he looks forward to the more charitable part of the festivities.

 “Well, I like giving Valentine’s out to other people,” he said. “It kind of means we’re celebrating.” 

These Valentine messages often cut straight to the point, with the phrase “Happy Valentine’s Day” cheerily bannered across the card. 

Despite his love for giving Valentine’s, Max’s favorite part of the day is “celebrating it with [his] mom and dad.” 

Towards the end of the discussion, Max added one more thought. Max stated that the perfect Valentine’s Day would be a day where “no one was mean.” He thought a bit more about his answer, but satisfied, he happily said, “That’s it.” 

Five grades above, in Farragut Middle School, lay the next stop on the Valentine’s express. 

“Hearts… cards… a bunch of couples on dates” was sixth-grader Charlie Baer’s summary of a holiday he admitted to being fairly indifferent to. 

He did, though, have thoughts on what the ideal day might look like: “For me, a sufficient amount of candy.”

But Charlie made sure to point out some of the other rewards of the holiday, such as “getting to stay home alone because [his] parents are on a date, probably.” 

On the topic of Valentine’s more romantic aspect, Charlie acknowledged the “lovey-dovey” part of the day, but felt it was less applicable to himself. “I’ve just never liked the “Valentiney” part of Valentine’s Day,” he stated. “I mean people talk about how you have a quote-unquote valentine on Valentine’s Day, and I don’t know, I feel like I’ve never had that.” 

Reiterating that Valentine’s Day was a candy-centered event for him, Charlie noted his ideal candy to receive was Sour Patch Kids, and while having a Valentine’s is nice, he’s more than happy to accept candy from anyone. When it comes to candy, the more the better!

Alas, this Valentine’s journey through the (literal) ages has arrived at its final stop: Hastings High School. Isabella Santana, an HHS Senior, offered some of her thoughts on the holiday.

 “When I think of Valentine’s Day,” she said, “I think of love, I think of couples getting together and going out and celebrating their relationships. I think of chocolate, and I think of the colors red and pink, because that’s the lovey-dovey heart color.”

Isabella also felt that candy was an integral part of the day. “My favorite part of Valentine’s Day is probably getting candy or getting chocolates, because even if you don’t have a Valentine, my friends and I, at least, we usually give each other a cute card or note and some fun candy to make the day special.” With a short laugh, she added, “Almost like ‘Galentines.’” 

In terms of her perfect Valentine’s Day, Isabella chose to approach the subject from two angles: “I feel it would be fun on Valentine’s to just go out with your friends, for me just my girlfriends, my friends who are girls, just a group of us, and maybe get dinner and celebrate the relationship we have with each other. Or “if you have a significant other, I feel it could be fun to do the same thing but go out on a romantic dinner and exchange gifts romantically.”

While Max, Charlie, and Isabella all saw Valentine’s Day through their own rose-colored glasses, there was one thing they could all agree on: candy.  That’s probably not so far off how most of us think of Valentine’s.  After all, according to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $24 billion on Valentine’s-related merchandise in 2022. Interestingly, however, no one’s description of the holiday mentioned its history, maybe a sign that commercialization — and processed sugar — has consumed Valentine’s Day.