By Emmy McKirgan
It’s that time again. You might love this day festooned in pink hearts, chocolate and gifts of every shape and size. Or, you might hate it – you wish it would just fly away, like the little cherub darling that is synonymous with Valentine’s Day.
Will the real St. Valentine please stand up…
There seems to be some discrepancy as to where Valentine’s Day originated. Some believe it was all started by a patron saint, St. Valentine. According to History.com, there were two or more men named Valentine that influenced the holiday. One was a priest in third-century Rome. He defied the Emperors’ rule against marrying soldiers. The emperor felt they would be distracted by their married duties. Valentine didn’t share his sentiment and continued to marry couples until he was caught and sentenced to death.
The second piece of Valentine’s lore proposes that St. Valentine fell in love with a young girl (a jailor’s daughter) who spent time with him during his imprisonment. Before he was killed, it is claimed that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,”.
So when did all the fanfare begin?
At the end of the 5th century, Roman Pope Gelasius proclaimed February 14th as “St. Valentine’s Day” in honour of St. Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269. The connotation of romance didn’t come into play until the 14th and 15th centuries when romantic love and courtship blossomed. In the 18th century England it expanded to couples showing their love for each other by bestowing flowers, confectionery, and sending cards (known as “valentines”).
The valentines were handwritten and adorned with lace and other fabrics back in the 18th century. Today most of the cards that we give to our loved ones are mass-produced. There seems to be a card for everyone; we even have little “valentines” for kids to give to their classmates at school. Sometimes these come with a little treat. So make sure Suzie or Billy gives one to each person in their class. I remember being so careful to double-check the kids’ class list. I wanted each child to feel loved and accepted.
How did Cupid come into all this?
According to Time, Cupid didn’t start as a chubby cherub. Instead, back in 700 BC, they referred to the Greek god of love as Eros. He was a handsome, immortal man with power to make people fall in love. In Greek mythology, he was seen as overly powerful, almost sinister. When the Romans came into power, the story changed from Cupid being a powerful god to a cherubic little boy who adhered to his mother’s wishes. This new Cupid gained traction and remained as a cherub till the present day.
How will you celebrate this Valentine’s Day?
There’s a lot to be gleaned from the history of Valentine’s Day. There were many stories along the way that have been woven together to tell the tale. However, what is important today is how you will celebrate, whether you are alone, with a spouse, or a best friend. The main takeaway from Valentine’s Day is telling the ones you love why you love them, why they are important to you and realizing you are loved deeply by an amazing God! That agape love supersedes any Valentine presents, chocolates or cards you will ever receive.