Tuesday, February 14, 2012

History of Valentine's Day

We do Valentine's Day big at our house.  Not big gifts.  Big gestures and  little gestures by little hands.  If you remember my post last Valentine's Day, you would remember that I decorate the dining room as special as I can to surprise my kids with.  Usually I do it while they are at school, so they arrive home to a magical space.  But this year I wanted it to be memorable from the time they woke up.  So Alex and I worked on it last night.  Stay tuned tomorrow for pictures of our special dinner.

In the meantime, here is what the History Channel has to say about the origins of this lovely day.  There is also some mumbo-jumbo on the site about the pagan history and rituals, but I'm choosing to ignore it.  I'm not going to let those pagans ruin a good thing.  :)

The Legend of St. Valentine

The history of Valentine's Day--and the story of its patron saint--is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But 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 during the third century in 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.

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.

Have a wonderful day.  If you have people to show your love to or not, there is always The One who IS love to celebrate.

1 John 4:16
"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."

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