Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody. For some, it’s a day that is not wanted. For others, it’s a day of enjoying time with that special someone. But the thing is that it’s a day filled with more than just chocolates and flowers. It’s a day that allows us to see others with care and love continually. Sometimes it’s the little things like somebody reaching out with a card or doing something a small gesture to make us appreciate the day more. For many, it’s about what a person gets on this day. For me, it’s about sharing myself with others and not necessarily material possessions but opportunities.
My favorite thing to do on Valentine’s is to get together with a group of friends that may not be celebrating with their loved ones. I’m not a very romanticized person regarding what people should get. To me, Valentine’s Day is about doing things for others in small ways to know that they are appreciated and loved. It’s not about commercialism because that’s a turn-off to me. I’d rather have something kind of like a homemade meal or for enjoying an evening at home without worrying about work.
The more I thought about Valentine’s Day; I wondered how this tradition started. I’ve often heard that the patron saint’s story for Valentine’s was shrouded in mystery. I know that February has long been a time of celebrating the month for romance and that it also contains elements of the Christian and ancient Roman traditions. Still, it made me wonder who Saint Valentine was and how he became associated with the holiday?
I remember in my history lessons; the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine. From those lessons, I remembered that all of them were modern, but one study said that Valentine was a priest who served, I believe, in 3rd century Rome. Feel free to correct me because I love learning. When another emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those men with wives and families, he outlawed marriage. Because of the injustice of the decree, Valentine chose to defy him and perform marriages for young lovers and secret. When Claudius discovered this, he ordered Valentine to death. Now that’s just one of the stories I remember, and I know two others are online somewhere. There’s a lot of information on the Internet, so to make this very short and sweet, I found there could be religious reasons why Valentine may have lost his life.
I’ve heard that he attempted to help Christians escape harsh prisons where they suffered beatings and torture. A legend says he fell in love with a young girl, possibly a jailer’s daughter, who visited him during his confinement. Before he died, he supposedly wrote her a letter signed by “your Valentine,” which is an expression that we still use today. All of these scenarios are folklore and legends, and while none of them have proven entirely true, it’s no coincidence that Valentine will become one of the most popular saints in England and France.
There’s a lot more information on the Web about Valentine’s and its history. Still, I just thought it interesting how Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, even though written Valentines didn’t appear until after 1400. Supposedly the oldest known Valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles Duke of Orleans to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England. (I found that information on the history channel articles, my memory wasn’t clear.)
So, where does Cupid come into Valentine’s Day? He’s often portrayed as a naked sheriff launching arrows of love at unsuspecting lovers. But the Roman God Cupid has his roots in great mythology as the Greek God of love Eros. Some say he is the son of Aphrodite and Aries, and another site says he’s the son of Iris and Zephyr, or even Aphrodite and Zeus, who would have been his father and grandfather.
One thing’s for sure Cupid’s arrow has hit in many different places where his arrow should have missed the mark. Unfortunately for several couples who became involved with each other, those relationships fail over time from the beginning. But that’s one of the reasons why Valentine’s Day is so popular. Taking the time to make small notes to one another can impact that lasts beyond our lifetimes. When people in different generations find love notes written to others, they pause and wonder about the mysteries clouded with valentines. But for the couples that find everlasting love, Valentine’s Day is a reminder of how love changes everything.
Some folks have a tough time on today’s date. I’m one of them. But I would instead share the love with other friends then dwell on what I don’t have. Because to me, Valentine’s Day is about giving of yourself and sharing the best parts of us with those around us. So today, I hope you’re Valentine’s Day is filled with memories, love, and sharing. The little things we all do for each other make the most significant impact. Enjoy the day and celebrate well. Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, everybody.