Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saint Valentine's Day

I am not, nor have I ever been a fan of Valentines Day. My husband and I don't share in the "tradition" of making Valentine's Day a time to spend money on one another, or on anyone else. The commercialism of days (Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, etc., etc., etc.) that were meant to memorialize and remember, have turned the real reasons for these holidays into another spending-frenzy!

I don't send cards out on Valentine's Day, but often receive them; I AM thankful for the people who remember me, though. This year, I got a card from my wonderful Aunt Doris (who is always thinking about others!) and I thought I would share the content of the card here, because it is the first Valentine's Day card that I have received that I have really enjoyed. On it, is the story of Saint Valentine.

The Story of Saint Valentine

Ancient Rome was not a thriving city with all amenities as it is today. When Rome was founded, there was wilderness all around and the dense jungles were natural habitats of fierce wild animals. One animal that particularly should be mentioned in this context is the wolf. Countryside, in the infant city of Rome, abounded with fierce wolves who made mince meat of any human daring to enter their territory. But the Romans had Lupercus who looked after the poor innocent shepherds and their flocks of sheep. So to honor the God who does so much for them all through the year, ancients Romans celebrated Lupercalia in mid February. There was a great feast and young people mixed freely with each other in the hopes of getting a suitable bride or groom for themselves. Therefore the association of spring and love in the minds of mankind sprung in the pagan days.

Gradually with the passage of time and advent of a Christian society, love took on another dimension and meaning. If Lupercalia encouraged eroticism, then Valentine celebration is about more tender higher love which glorifies in sacrifices. There are many versions of Saint Valentine story and it is easy to get confused. There were at three Saint Valentines who may have or may not have anything to do with love. But the most accepted Saint Valentine story is about an ancient priest, St. Valentine.

He was chaste himself but that did not make him shun those who gave in to the most common failing (if it can be so called) of the human mind, love. Emperor Claudius II decreed that no young men should marry, as he realized that marriage and families made them reluctant to join the army. But how can the society move forward with so many unmarried people teeming with resentment and frustration?

St. Valentine performed secret marriage ceremonies in dungeons and other obscure places, with only the bride and groom apart from the priest present. Such activity obviously endeared him to the youth of the society, but the blow fell with Claudius coming to know of this practice. He was imprisoned before being beheaded on 14th February. There is a very tender story regarding the death of St. Valentine. The jailer's daughter apparently fell in love with him and visited him everyday in jail. She was cured of her blindness by the saint, but whom destiny had decided to part, what can any mortal do? The bereft girl received a message from him signed “from your Valentine”, on the eve of his death.*

Knowing the story of Saint Valentine, we as a family are going to start a tradition of having a family dinner (nothing commercially fancy, mind you!) and talking about the things that we love about one another. We will remember why we fell in love, how we stay in love, and reflect on our favorite ways of sharing love.

source of heading heart picture: