TIME Bizarre

The Time Valentine’s Day Was 96 Hours Long

A heart is painted in the snow on a tabl
Jochen Luebke—AFP/Getty Images A heart is painted in the snow on a table of a sidewalk cafe in Berlin on another snowy Valentine's Day, in 2005

Thanks to one romantic governor

Valentine’s Day of 1978 shouldn’t have been a particularly special one — in fact, for a while it looked like it might end up being one of the worst in history.

That year, early February brought with it the legendary Blizzard of ’78 to Massachusetts. It was, quite literally, a perfect storm: certain meteorological conditions combined to keep the storm off the Atlantic coast for a few days, where it built up force. When it hit, around February 5 of that year, thousands were stranded or worse, having been unprepared for the magnitude of the blizzard. The storm continued for days. Dozens of inches of snow were recorded, along with flooding and high winds.

Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis declared three days of official holiday, to keep people off the road — and, about a week later, he made a similar declaration. Though the storm had finally passed, Valentine’s Day was still disrupted, at great cost to the hearts and wallets of the state — so he decided to act. As TIME reported on the Feb. 27, 1978, issue:

Valentine’s Day was different this year in Massachusetts: it was 96 hours long. The extension was due to Governor Michael Dukakis, who realized that the recent blizzard had left ardent suitors trapped in several feet of snow. Worse, merchants estimated that they would lose $10 million worth of sales of candy, flowers and greeting cards. So Dukakis extended the Tuesday holiday to Friday, for “spiritual as well as economic reasons.” To fulfill the spirit of the thing, he sent Valentine messages to his wife Kitty all week long.

Those four days of Valentine’s celebration are unlikely to be repeated any time soon — but there’s always a chance: Boston’s forecast for Saturday shows a chance of snow.

Read more about love, with TIME’s 2008 cover story about the science of romance, here in the TIME Vault: Why We Need Love to Survive

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