Joshua Gans on the grade school ritual (a very entertaining read as usual):
This Friday (12th February) is Valentine’s Day. Now before you say, “oh no it isn’t!” I have to beg to differ. That is the day our two youngest children are, near as I can tell, compelled to bring a Valentine’s card to every other person in the class. The school sent home a convenient list of the some 45 names in total that require cards and the instruction that they be prepared for Friday. And by prepared, you can’t just go to the store, buy a pack and put names on it. Nor can you, as I had wanted to do, draw a card on the computer and hit print (quantity = 45). Each requires individual attention. Suffice it to say, this is an exercise requiring many hours and, frankly, if we didn’t have a snow day today (that is, a day whereupon fear of snow = no school for you), it is unclear whether the household could produce the required amount of love.
And of course the parents wind up doing most of the work. I would suggest however that schools will push parents to their limits in terms of busy work whether or not that includes making Valentines. That is, if the Valentine exchange were banned it would only be replaced by some other after-school craft or chore.
What’s surprising is that Valentines has survived this long in US schools. It’s too focal and so too easy for parents to coordinate their outrage against. Whereas yet another assignment to look up native american tribes on the internet just blends in with all the rest.