another valentine’s day, part 1: where’s the love?


A rendering of what St. Valentine looked like. What he is doing here is another story.

I can’t recall the exact events of last years Valentine celebrations, or the years before that, or even the year before that. I can recall a couple times I actually did enjoy myself, but those have since been days long past.

Rather than wallow in depression about another Valentine’s Day being single, I decided to do some research on how this day came to be and who the stank was Saint Valentine anyway?

I’d also like to make it known that in any other circumstance; I’m usually a romantic at heart. It’s just that when society makes you feel like you need to be in some kind of an intimate relationship with someone, it may produce the opposite effect of what’s intended. Hence my closeted cynicism.

But back to the history of it all, it turns out that there really wasn’t just one Saint Valentine that this holiday was named after. And from the research I did find, there is nothing about love or romance mentioned either. In fact, my guess is that they were far from trying to woo anyone, unless you mean “woo” as in “convert”. If that’s what you mean, then yes, there was a lot of wooing from these guys and the Roman Empire did not approve of it and had these Christians killed. Thus is the very essence of romance. Is it not?

There is a popular story that I heard many times that I found to actually be false about one said martyr. I shall turn to Wikipedia for this story:

The Early Medieval acta of either Saint Valentine were expounded briefly in Legenda Aurea. According to that version, St Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II in person. Claudius was impressed by Valentine and had a discussion with him, attempting to get him to convert to Roman paganism in order to save his life. Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity instead. Because of this, he was executed. Before his execution, he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing the blind daughter of his jailer.

Legenda Aurea still providing no connections whatsoever with sentimental love, appropriate lore has been embroidered in modern times to portray Valentine as a priest who refused an unattested law attributed to Roman Emperor Claudius II, allegedly ordering that young men remain single. The Emperor supposedly did this to grow his army, believing that married men did not make for good soldiers. The priest Valentine, however, secretly performed marriage ceremonies for young men. When Claudius found out about this, he had Valentine arrested and thrown in jail. In an embellishment to The Golden Legend provided by American Greetings, Inc. to History.com and widely repeated, on the evening before Valentine was to be executed, he wrote the first “valentine” himself, addressed to a young girl variously identified as his beloved, as the jailer’s daughter whom he had befriended and healed, or both. It was a note that read “From your Valentine.”

Later on in history, feasts were held for these martyrs. Actually, even before this time feasts were held for different reasons entirely (some of them pagan) which eventually got Christianized, similarly like Christmas. It wasn’t too soon after that when people started give it a romantic twist and the greeting cards began popping up. Having read that, I would go as far as to say that Valentine’s cards have Christmas cards by a few hundred years… yet Christmas cards still get Hallmark more money. Go figure.

Again, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think it’s all bad to have a holiday celebrating love. If you think about it, Thanksgiving and Christmas kinda do the same thing. Thanksgiving is the love of family… and food. Christmas is the love of everyone, birth of Jesus, presents… and food. Then Valentine’s is the love of your significant other, possibly some sex …but after chocolates and food.

Click to see more eCards like this.

But at the same time, I don’t think it’s really necessary to have a love-themed holiday. Those who are in relationships should celebrate their love daily. Special occasions would include anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas and just because days. But since V-Day is around, go ahead and give in to what it’s all about. I’m aware of many other couples who have no extra plans, reservations or feelings towards February 14th and treat it like the 13th or 15th. Power to them!

To be continued tomorrow…

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Posted in history, valentines day, writing

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