Valentine’s Day In All-Girls’ Schools
On Valentine’s Day every year, I find myself waxing poetic about what Valentine’s Day was like in an all-girls school to just about anyone who’ll listen.
I’ve heard people from mixed schools protest, claiming it couldn’t be that different from what they experienced. Wasn’t it just about cards, flowers and the like?
But any girl who attended an all-girls secondary school can attest to this: there is no Valentine’s Day like a girls’ school Valentine’s Day.
The OG Galentine’s Day
Way before “Galentine’s Day” became a thing, it seemed every girl from a girls’ school in Singapore collectively decided Valentine’s Day was going to be a celebration of our friendship.
And celebrate we did, with all the enthusiasm you’d expect from teenage girls.
Going to school on 14 February was like stepping into a movie scene—there would be home-made gifts, handwritten notes and Hershey’s Kisses waiting for me on my table.
Stray pink balloons floated along the corridors while we went from class to class, passing gerberas to the girls in our clique. One of my friends even gave her deskmate a rose she had grown in her own garden. It looked a little shrivelled, but it was a rose nonetheless.
All of this happened even before the school day had started, mind you. In Secondary 2, the prefects showered us with candy from the second floor while the rest of us stood in the parade square for morning assembly. I’d never seen anything so glorious.
A celebration of female friendship
Literally no other day in the year brought us together like this.
I remember staying up late, writing notes to my closest friends saying how special they were to me. I thanked them for accepting me, warts and all, and told them I wanted them in my life for a long time to come.
To the girls I wasn’t as close to, I had chocolates prepared. It was an unspoken rule; everyone was getting something on Valentine’s Day. My friend from another all-girls school even told me her class had a “Secret Valentine” gift exchange. Like Secret Santa, everyone got a gift from an unknown giver.
My friend’s Secret Valentine loot
Whether you were popular or not, so much affection was doled out that everyone went home feeling a little more loved. For one day only, any cattiness dissipated and we all got along.
Even our teachers, who usually policed our behaviour to ensure we weren’t engaging in too much physical contact (they thought it would make us lesbian), gave us a break on Valentine’s Day. For once, we weren’t chided for hugging, holding hands or sitting on each other’s laps.
What resulted was an atmosphere of overwhelming love and support for each other. Though I’ve made many beautiful friendships with other women since leaving secondary school, I haven’t experienced anything quite like the avalanche of good vibes I used to get on Valentine’s Day.
No shame in singlehood
Image credit: Samantha Ngain
Perhaps another reason why girls’ school girls remember Valentine’s Day so fondly is because it was one of the rare times we felt no shame in singlehood.
As women, we’re constantly reminded about the value of getting married and having kids. The pressure to get attached begins in your late teens, which is also the time your relatives start asking you during CNY gatherings whether you have a boyfriend. Coincidence? I think not. God forbid you’re gay!
But since being single was the de facto back in an all-girls school, we didn’t feel sorry for ourselves if we didn’t have a date. Without any expectations of romance, there was no disappointment.
On the Valentine’s Days that I’ve found myself single, I think back to my time in secondary school and remind myself of how contented I was, simply having my friends beside me.
Girls’ School Valentine’s Days
Before we had boyfriends, girlfriends, degrees and careers, all we had was each other.
Ultimately, Valentine’s Day is so special to girls’ school girls because it encapsulates everything we loved about being in an all-girls school—the camaraderie, the innocence, our carefree adolescence. We pine for it because we’re nostalgic for a simpler time.
If you’re dateless the next Valentine’s Day, maybe it’s time you drop your girls a text. Invite them for dinner and drinks, then surprise them with a rose each like the good ‘ol days. Bonus points if the flowers are home-grown.