My friend and I were sitting directly behind a birthday party, which took up two rows-- small kids in the middle and adults at the ends of the rows. It seemed like a small number of adults to wrangle so many children. Truly, parents develop superpowers. And the idea of taking the kids out to an event, as opposed to having them all in your house, seems genius to me especially in the winter. I remember birthday parties of my childhood-- you either had a very small number of best friends (in which case you delivered the invitations on the sly or your mother phoned around) or THE WHOLE CLASS was invited, which even in those days might be thirty children. I have no idea how mothers (it was the seventies, so it was the mother running everything-- I don't think I ever even met the dad) managed it.
Incidentally, Valentine's Day was the same way when I was a kid, and maybe still is despite sad-Charlie-Brown-getting-no-Valentines cartoons: a week or so before the day you got a list of all the kids in your class, and you were expected to get one or two boxes of cheap little valentines and give one to EVERYONE. And then you had cookies and fruit punch at your desk. When I was a teacher, in a very small school, we had a period at the beginning of the party where everyone could roam the school delivering valentines to their friends and siblings and cousins in other classes, but you had to provide one valentine to each kid in your class, and if you forgot someone the teacher (who also gave everyone a valentine) had a stash. That seems so reasonable that I'm never sure what to make of stories that include the idea of one kid never getting a valentine. Was the practice less widespread than I assumed?
Anyway. We're coming up on Valentine's Day, which tends to result in a lot of posts on Facebook by people loudly proclaiming it a fake holiday they proudly do not care about. Personally, it always makes me think of tiny, cheap paper cards ("To My Teacher!") and sugar cookies with pink icing. So I never have a date, but I also never think of it as a date kind of day, either.