Valentine’s day is celebrated by lovers. We all dress up in red and exchange gifts with the one we think we are in love with. Couples go out for dinner while some spend the full day celebrating their love.
It’s funny how we have limited love to be expressed only on that day, or highly on that day! When it’s not expressed, we ladies go gaga and go as far as ending that relationship. The media doesn’t help matters either as they share memes of men absconding on their ladies on that day. Let’s also not forget about the girls who give up their virginity on that day.
It makes one wonder: is this a day of love or of lust! Let’s probe into it some more.
St. Valentine’s Day is named from a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but has origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia. Having both Christian and ancient Roman traditions combined, let’s dig: who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?
The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served in third century Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. (history.com)
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.
While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270, others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from? Find out about the history of this century-old holiday from ancient Roman rituals to the customs of Victorian England.
To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
Valentine, nowadays, has been celebrated as a day to commemorate love. It is not a day to prove love as the only proof of love was on the cross.
That is the only true Love.
So before you stress that young man to sell all his belongings to prove to you, with expensive things, that he truly loves you, remember; love is kind, love is humble, love is not selfish and most especially, God is love.
When you understand that true love is God and not material things, then you will learn to love yourself and your neighbour as yourself. Let true love find you through the love of God. That is the determining value of true love, not Valentine’s day gifts.
So tomorrow, make it the start of a true Valentine’s day with God.