Local shop windows are full of Valentine’s displays, but one is full of actual Valentines.
Every Feb. 14, across the world, loved ones take part in the tradition of exchanging candy, flowers and gifts all in the name of St. Valentine. At in downtown Mystic, loved ones can create a personalized note to their valentine to hang in the store’s front. The eclectic shop started the tradition of the window of hearts 23 years ago.
“I started the tradition because it was a great way for the public to interact and it just seemed like such a charming idea,” said the shop’s owner, Martha Hug (a fitting name for the brain behind this idea).
And year after year, Hug said it has brought people out of the lull of cold winter weather and after-Christmas blues and through the front door of her store.
The tradition has consistently grown over the last nearly quarter century and there can be up to a few hundred hearts in the window at one time.
“People have been coming for years,” Pamela Zagarenski, the store’s manager, said. “We had a woman come in the other day that had started this tradition when she was a child and remembered the very first heart she created. It is all about fun and playfulness.”
The staff at Whyevernot provides all the paper hearts, markers, sparkles and other supplies that you may need to create a customized Valentine. Each year different craft supplies mean the hearts are always unique from year to year. There is no cost to make a heart, so you don’t have to break the bank to convey your love for someone.
“We wanted the sentiment, warmth and emotion of this loving holiday for the whole community with no restrictions…It is our valentine to Mystic,” Hug said.
Valentines are not the only expressions of love Whyevernot has witnessed; a marriage proposal took place at the store amongst the wistful setting of historic downtown Mystic.
But the hearts are not just reserved for couples. There have been valentines dedicated to family, pets, even the world. Children are welcome to come and create hearts, the Valentines becoming a craft activity for the whole family to share in.
“It’s fun during these cold times to have children come in all bundled up, sit down and create their valentines, and a lot of the time, it is them that want to take their hearts home to their mothers instead of leaving them to go up in the window,” Hug said.
Participants mainly involve locals, however travelers passing through town have fell in love with the idea and taken part in the tradition as well.
Hearts start to go up the beginning of January and come down the week after Valentine’s Day. Whyevernot holds onto the hearts for about a month so contributors can pick them up for keepsake. For those just passing through town, the store will mail them.