February 14th is internationally known as Valentine’s Day. People everywhere are scrambling to buy overpriced roses, candy and cards. Restaurants are getting ready for the onslaught of couples that will most likely fill every booth and table. Hallmark is already grinning, as Valentine’s Day is now second only to Christmas for volume of cards purchased (Mother’s Day used to hold that title). Single and bitter people are stocking up on alcohol, while single and happy people are ignoring the day altogether.
The story behind this emotion-filled day is speculative. The most often told tale is of the Christian Saint Valentinus, who kept performing marriages for soldiers, even though that practice had been outlawed in the Roman Empire during his time. It is thought that Valentinus was able to heal the daughter of his jailer, and left her a note, “From your Valentine” right before his execution.
Religiously, Valentine’s Day is officially a feast day for the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church. Its first association with romantic love was during the High Middle Ages, during the time of Geoffrey Chaucer and courtly love. This idea snowballed, and by the 15th century, people were presenting their lovers with flowers and other tokens of their feelings for one another. The practice of presenting significant others with written and homemade “valentines” was replaced by the mass production of greeting cards in the 19th century.
Valentine’s Day is looked upon in many different ways by couples and singles today. Some folks consider it a “mandatory” celebration, while others are happy with an e-card and a kiss on the cheek. There are also people, both single and coupled-up, that ignore Valentine’s Day altogether. One woman explained that, “I want to feel special to my husband every day of the year, not just on one day. I try to do the same for him. Roses and candy on a day where everyone is getting them means nothing to me.”
In any way it’s received, Valentine’s Day will always be an opportunity for children to eat candy and trade cards with each other. Perhaps the best lesson can be taken from them because the day is there to be enjoyed and to have fun with, no matter how it’s done.