No, it’s not a holiday created simply for consumerism. Although it does rake in lots of money for the Post Office as the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas because approximately 150 million cards are exchanged around Valentine’s Day. Actually Valentine’s Day is a holiday with quite a bit of history. However, its history is mostly told in the form of legends.
So, as legend tells it, St. Valentine was a Roman priest around 270 AD. At the time, Christians were being denied the sacrament of marriage because the Roman Empire outlawed marriage for soldiers. Roman pagans thought that unmarried men made better soldiers. So, St. Valentine, believing in the importance of the sacrament of marriage, performed weddings for soldiers and his special touch was a heart cut from parchment that he gave the newlyweds to remind them of God’s love and to encourage them to remain faithful Christians. Eventually, he was martyred for these crimes but before his execution he performed a miracle by healing a young girl of her blindness. On the day he was executed, February 14, he left the young girl a note that said, “Your Valentine.” St. Valentine’s heart-shaped parchments and the “Your Valentine” note are thought to be the origin of our modern celebration of the day. Legend also has it that the young girl who had been healed of blindness immediately converted to Christianity and planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near St. Valentine’s grave and the almond tree remains at the site as a symbol of abiding love and friendship.
Now, more than one thousand years later, the holiday of Valentine’s Day is celebrated through Valentines exchanged at school, red roses sent to loved ones, heart-shaped chocolates, and basically anything that can be colored red or pink. My favorite Valentine’s memories are from childhood, my grandpa always helped me design beautifully unique Valentine’s boxes for my school’s holiday parties including robots, airplanes, kitties, and more.
David and I don’t celebrate the holiday anymore but he made our very first Valentine’s Day very memorable. Our freshman year, we were living down the hall from each other in the dorms. On V-Day he picked me up with the “plan” to head to one of the few nice restaurants in our small college town. Then he told me that we had to go to his room because he had forgotten to put on his coat. Little did I know that he had made a romantic dinner for us in his room. The catch? He’d locked himself out of his room! So he had to find our student advisor to let him in while worrying that his yummy dinner was getting very cold. Luckily, it didn’t take long to unlock the door to present his surprise. It was my first Valentine’s with a boyfriend and he made me feel very special and loved with a romantic gesture. No candy, flowers, or hearts necessary.
Whether you celebrate the day of love with a significant other, friends, family, (a pint of ice cream on the couch), or simply ignoring the holiday, just be sure to spend it with someone (or something) that you love. Happy Valentine’s Day!