Valentine’s Day is now a massive money making day for card companies, florists and sweetie makers. But the gifts given to a prospective ‘loved’ one were not always so ‘refined’.
According to ‘The Onlooker’ writing in 1933 for The Orkney Herald and Advertiser, among the tokens sent to a Valentine in Orkney were: pigs tails, old boots, twisted sofa springs, empty beer bottles, charred table legs, broken chimney cans, and knotted seaweed.
The Vikings, according to the writer, would send pieces of rival suitors as part of the wooing process.
“They had many rival suitors, and each anniversary of good St Val saw a might killing in The Crafty, which was The Vikings arena. At that time, it is interesting to note, there was no stone dyke around The Crafty – only a wooden fence with iron spikes, and it was no uncommon thing for milkmen driving up Junction Road on the Eve of St Val’s Day to see the Crafty chock full of Vikings, hard at it, hewing slices off one another, the roadway running with blood, and an occasional combatant staggering out from the fray, his nose missing, but with some rival’s head and shoulders under his right arm, an another rival’s torso under his left. Verily these were the days”
It’s all fun and games until one one loses a torso, as my gran used to say.