Is Valentine’s Day a good thing?
If you’re a procrastinator like me, the answer is a resounding “No”; and “Yes”. You see, I’m also a romantic. And though I’m late to everything, my mother insists I’ll be late to my own funeral, I do love my significant other more than words can say. I once suggested to a brother-in-law that he should tell his wife she’s gorgeous. He quipped back, when was the last time you told yours she’s gorgeous? I looked at my wife and asked; “2 or 3 times a week”? She nodded her agreement with a bit of an approving smile. But I digress, what I really wanted to know was, how did Valentine’s Day come to be, it’s history. What put me into this pressure cooker? Here is what I found out…
Valentine’s Day, also called St. Valentine’s Day, when lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts. The holiday has origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, held in mid-February. The festival, which celebrated the coming of spring and included fertility rites. At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day. It came to be celebrated as a day of romance from about the 14th century. Valentine’s Day is now celebrated on February 14.
Although there were several Christian martyrs named Valentine, the day may have taken its name from a priest who was martyred about 270 CE by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus. According to legend, the priest signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended and, by some accounts, healed from blindness. Other accounts hold that it was St. Valentine of Terni, a bishop, for whom the holiday was named, though it is possible the two saints were actually one person. Another common legend states that St. Valentine defied the emperor’s orders and secretly married couples to spare the husbands from war. It is for this reason that his feast day is associated with love.
Formal messages, or valentines, appeared in the 1500s, and by the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used. The first commercial valentines in the United States were printed in the mid-1800s. Valentines commonly depict Cupid, the Roman god of love, along with hearts, traditionally the seat of emotion. Because it was thought that the avian mating season begins in mid-February, birds also became a symbol of the day. Traditional gifts include candy and flowers, particularly red roses, a symbol of beauty and love.
The day is popular in the United States as well as in Britain, Canada, and Australia, and it is also celebrated in other countries, including Argentina, France, Mexico, and South Korea. In the Philippines, it is the most common wedding anniversary, and mass weddings of hundreds of couples are not uncommon on that date. The holiday has expanded to expressions of affection among relatives and friends. Many schoolchildren exchange valentines with one another on this day.[i]
So, is Valentine’s Day a good thing? That all depends. I’m terrible about planning ahead, but I don’t mind staying up late the night before writing a letter or poem expressing my sincere and never-ending love for my one and only. So for me, it’s a mixed bag. But when I get it right, the answer is an unequivocal “YES”. And I hope it is for you too/two.
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