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February 14: Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Here is a sampling of how North Dakotans have celebrated the day in the past.

Possibly one of the first Valentine’s Day events in what is now North Dakota was a Saint Valentine’s ball held in 1875 in Bismarck to benefit a music and dance teacher. The public was invited; tickets cost three dollars.

Stores in what is now North Dakota sold valentine cards as early as 1881, when a Jamestown seller offered “a large stock of sentimental and comic valentines.”

In 1885, a Valentine’s Day children’s carnival at a skating rink in Wahpeton awarded a $1 prize to the “most graceful couple.” Coupons went to the “most handsomely dressed” girl and boy, and valentines went to the best boy and girl skaters. Another boy won 50 cents for “best dressed soldier.”

In 1886, the Bismarck chapter of the United Ancient Order of Druids hosted a Valentine’s Day ball, with proceeds going to the sick and to the order’s benefit fund.

In 1892, a Minto woman received 58 comic valentines by mail. The postmaster provided her with a special sack for the haul!

In 1904, the deLendrecie’s department store in Fargo offered “a complete lineup of Valentines from 2 cents up to $1.50 each.”

In 1918, six students of Bismarck high school’s domestic science department gave a dinner party with their mothers and friends as guests. They served a wartime menu with alternatives for meat and wheat. Dessert featured a red and white heart-shaped cake.

In the Depression-era 1930s, community dances and bridge parties were common Valentine’s Day events.

In 1945, North Dakota’s first lady hosted a tea in honor of state lawmakers’ wives at the governor’s mansion. Among the 100 guests were the wives of four previous governors.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura


  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1875, February 3. Page 4
  • The Jamestown Alert. 1881, February 4. Page 4: Valentines
  • The Wahpeton Times. 1885, February 19. Page 5: Local news
  • Bismarck Weekly Tribune. 1886, February 12. Page 8: St. Valentine’s Ball
  • Bismarck Weekly Tribune. 1892, February 19. Page 6: Around the state
  • Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. 1904, February 1. Page 1: deLendrecie’s (advertisement)
  • Bismarck Evening Tribune. 1918, February 14. Page 5: Valentine dinner
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1933, February 16. Page 5: Post officers give benefit dancing party
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1934, February 12. Page 5: Over 80 at Valentine’s dance given Saturday; Bismarck high school seniors give Valentine dance
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1945, February 10. Page 5: Mrs. Aandahl to honor legislators’ wives at tea
  • The Bismarck Tribune. 1945, February 15. Page 5: Mrs. Aandahl honors wives of legislators at tea

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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