Monday is February 14th…..Valentine’s Day
Is Valentine’s Day a conspiracy made up by the flower, candy and greeting card stores? Who started the February 14th madness? Who is Valentine? and Does love really conquer all?
One legend says 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 that may be potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. AHH…OK that is romantic…marrying forbidden lovers. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death on February 14th.
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. Not so romantic, but still a good guy.
Ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia ( a festival of purification and fertility named after the God Lupercus) was held every year on February 15th. In addition to a bountiful feast, the festivities included the pairing of young women and men. Men would draw a women’s name from a box, and each couple would be paired until next year’s celebration. After Claudius ordered the death of Valentine, the festival was re-named Valentine’s day and moved to February 14th.
According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. But that was his name….are we supposed to sign our name or his name on our cards?
Some people believe that February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification or that February 14th was the beginning of birds’ mating season. I think I will stick with Valentine performing forbidden marriages, I like that one the best.
Ok, so how does Cupid fit in? According to Roman mythology, Cupid was the son of Venus – the goddess of love and beauty. Venus became jealous of a beautiful maiden named Psyche and she ordered Cupid to punish the maiden, but Cupid fell in love with Psyche. The two married, but as a mortal she was forbidden to look at him. Psyche couldn’t resist temptation and among her harsh punishment handed out by Venus Psyche died. Cupid brought Psyche back to life and the gods were so moved by their love they granted Psyche immortality. Cupid thus represents the heart and Psyche the (struggles of the) human soul. Wow another forbidden love….I see a pattern. Maybe love really does conquer all.
I was surprised to find that Valentine’s Day is the second largest holiday of the year with over 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards exchanged each year. Hallmark has over 1,330 different cards specifically for Valentines Day. Florist sell over 110 million roses within a three-day period.
I have always enjoyed the “holiday’s” that involve my children (Christmas, Easter, etc.) because as a mother, I love to do special things for my children during those times of the year. Even though I usually buy my husband a card to wish him Happy Valentine’s Day, this year I have been thinking more about the meaning of Valentine’s Day. I am sure it is something different for everyone, but for me it is about being grateful for my husband. I am so thankful for having him in my life and I am reminded of how lucky I am that he chose me to spend the rest of his life with.
Fun Fact: The X symbol became synonymous with the kiss in medieval times. People who couldn’t write their names signed in front of a witness with an X. The X was then kissed to show their sincerity.