Some people look forward to it all year, while others seem to be immune to its existence. Valentine’s Day, symbolized by that chubby little cherub or by red roses, candy hearts, and chocolate, is a day when we are supposed to think of our significant others, our family, wives and husbands. But have you actually ever wondered where it came from? No, neither Hallmark nor Hershey’s invented the day, despite their obvious investment in cards and chocolate. You might know a little about it and be able to tell us that Mr. Valentine was a saint, but there’s a lot more to his story. Exactly what did he do that was so special? Why do we celebrate him and associate him with all that love and candy?
First, there are up to three saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of which were martyred. The most popular of these legends contends that the story began in ancient Roman Times when Emperor
Claudius II decided to ban marriage among his soldiers. Apparently, he believed that they made better fighters as single men, with no families to consider. A brave and dedicated Catholic priest named Valentine, however, continued to perform marriage ceremonies for these soldiers. When his deeds were discovered, he was put to death for violating the Emperor’s law.
Aha! Now it makes more sense. He fought for love and family.
Another popular story suggests that Valentine helped Christians escape from the bleak and hostile Roman prisons. The story also maintains that an imprisoned Valentine wrote the first Valentine’s Day card to his young love who had visited him in jail. He allegedly composed and had delivered to her a letter before his death. He signed it, “from your Valentine.” Sound familiar?
Whatever the actual truth behind the legend, it seems clear that Saint Valentine embodies the ideals of justice, romance, and passion. It is Valentine’s Day because of this that we take a moment to honor our loved ones. I remember that my mother would always give us a little Valentine’s present, no matter how old we were. She said it was her way of reminding us that we were loved. To continue that tradition, I always give my own daughter something special on that day, even though she is grown now as well. I have a friend who has a tradition in her family where she, her brother and mother always get together on or around Valentine ’s Day to visit her late father’s gravesite. This is their way of remembering him and demonstrating that he is still a part of their thoughts. Yet another friend of mine always goes to dinner with her husband at an Italian restaurant on Valentine’s. To them, Italian food symbolizes love and romance. What Valentine’s traditions, if any, do you have in your family? Share in the comments section of the Facebook post.
So, as February 14th is just lurking around the corner, take a moment to think about those for whom you love and care deeply. It’s probable, based on their history, that all of the Saints Valentine would applaud you for any small or grand gestures you deliver during this day on their behalf. Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!!!