Thursday, January 26, 2012

News Flash: Cupid Prescribes!

Etiquette changes with the times. Nowhere is this more evident than in archival material.

Valentine’s Day on the brain? For some charming, if slightly outdated, advice, why not take a quick travel in time…to 1959?

Feb. 8, 1959, to be precise— as captured in an article published that day in The Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger, written by a mysterious figure only known as “Nan.”

The headline?

“Cupid Prescribes…HOW TO BE QUEEN OF HEARTS…Valentine Etiquette.”

So—what does Nan have to say? For one thing, how to handle an unwanted gift.

“…If his gift in remembrance of the romantic day is lacking in imaginativeness, a real Queen of Hearts will still accept it with an enthusiastic show of genuine pleasure,” writes Nan. “After all, that box of chocolates or bouquet of flowers may have cost him a week’s lunch money.”

That’s not bad advice, actually. When opening a present, no matter the contents, you only need say two words: “Thank you.” (With as much enthusiasm as you can muster.)

Nan goes on to extol the virtues of a lady’s “daintiness.” If the Valentine’s gift is a box of chocolates (which “milady must open…as soon as she receives it”), one should first offer some chocolate to the giver, then “daintily choose a piece for herself.” No foraging in the box for favorite pieces or complaining about the chocolate itself—“The whole situation calls for a bit of feminine restraint,” Nan writes. “Don’t tear into the wrappings as if starved for sweets.”

If the gift is flowers, “the recipient should pin it upon her dress immediately,” says Nan. Corsages are “almost certain to contain something red, so bear this in mind when deciding what to wear.”

What if the lady wants to give a fellow a gift? Nan advises to “keep the token small and inexpensive….some home-made cookies or fudge, prettily packaged, are sure to please a man.”

Home-made cookies or fudge would please most people, probably.

Next week’s blog will be full of more Valentine’s goodness…just a little bit more modern.

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