Happy Valentine’s Day! Or depending on when you’re reading this post, if you’re reading it after Valentine’s Day, then I hope you had a wonderful day whether or not you were celebrating.
And in all honesty, I know many of us don’t do much celebrating on this day. I had a friend recently realize that she wasn’t sure what to get her fiancé for the day, pointing to the reality that if she wants to get him something she doesn’t usually wait for an occasion – she just buys it. She thought that since I’ve been married a while I might have some sort of insight for her.
“Oh, we don’t get each other anything, we might go to dinner or something around that day, and I might give Greg a card if I think of it, but it’s just not something we put a lot of effort into.” I don’t know how helpful I was, but I hope my answer helped my friend with some of the pre-holiday stress she was taking on, and I don’t actually know if she ended up going the gift route or not.
But the truth is, Valentine’s Day has been a Christian feast day for the last 1500+ years, and apart from knowing it’s supposed to be a holiday for couples, before writing this post I didn’t know much about it. So here’s what the internet has taught me, so that I might share it with you:
- The day started as pagan festival in Rome called “Lupercalia”, and was meant to celebrate fertility.
- In 496CE the Pope decided to move the festival one day back (from February 15th to February 14th) and turned it into St. Valentine’s Day.
- It seems like no one is entirely sure which Valentine the Pope wanted to celebrate, here are some of the “legends” around Valentine:
- In 270 there was a prohibition on young men getting married in hopes they would join the military, Valentine apparently performed marriage ceremonies for couples, and was eventually put to death for doing so.
- Around the same time, Valentine was in prison and fell in love with his jailer’s daughter.
- Or maybe he was just killed for refusing to renounce his religion
- Valentine’s Day and romance weren’t actually linked until 1381 when the poet Chaucer included St Valentine’s Day in a poem.
- It wasn’t until the 19th century that gifts and cards started to get linked to Valentine’s Day, and not until 1850 that it began in the United States (thanks to their sudden mass production by a Massachusetts native)
Now that I feel educated on the history and evolution of Valentine’s Day, I think more than anything it has just reminded me that although it is a feast day in the church, and I am grateful for any extra chance to remember how loved I am (by my spouse sure, but also family, friends, and by God), I think I’d rather spend Valentine’s this year sharing love through non-Hallmark means.
So however you decide to spend the day, whether you are coupled or not, whether you take time to celebrate love or share thoughts of care with family and friends, or whether or not you celebrate, I hope you have a day filled with love from those around you and from the Lord our God.
Brunner, B. (2017, February 8). Valentine’s Day History. Retrieved from http://www.infoplease.com/: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/valentinesdayhistory.html