"The Story Behind Valentine's Day"
February 1, 2022 | View PDF
Flowers, candy, pretty cards, gifts, love, and romance in the air…that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about…right? At least, that’s what the celebration has become in our modern-day society. What is the real story behind Valentine’s Day?
Most sources believe that Saint Valentine’s Day began with a feast in honor of an early Christian martyr named Valentinus and is celebrated in mid-February to coincide with his burial. Some believe it may also be celebrated at this time in an effort to Christianize the pagan Roman celebration of Lupercalia – a fertility festival related to agriculture, while others deny this link.
Legend has it…Saint Valentinus is remembered as a loving, compassionate and heroic person.
He was a priest during the time when the Emperor Claudius II was persecuting the church, around 250 AD. Claudias had issued an edict that young men were not to marry, as single men made better soldiers. They would not be distracted by thoughts and care of their loved ones but could focus on their call to duty. In the very permissive society of that day (polygamy was popular), the church still viewed marriage as sacred between one man and one woman.
Valentinus believed those who were in love should be able to marry within the Christian church and remain monogamous. He defied the emperor’s orders and performed marriages in secret.
Valentinus was caught, imprisoned, tortured, and eventually killed for performing forbidden marriages and for ministering to Christians. Legend is that while Valentinus was in prison, he prayed with and saw the healing of the blind daughter of his jailer Asterius. Asterius and his entire household are said to have come to Christian faith as a result. It is widely believed that before his execution, Valentinus wrote a farewell letter to Asterius’ daughter signed “Your Valentinus.” This was the first “valentine.”
Today, the celebration of Saint Valentine’s Day has evolved from sending letters, poems, and homemade paper valentines to loved ones to a lucrative business for card publishers, florists, chocolatiers, and jewelers. While the celebration has become more materialistic, we can grasp the opportunity to show our love and concern for others through acts of kindness and compassion. We can share God’s love with the world around us. We can make something good out of this special day.
Take time to reflect on what Valentine’s Day means, or can mean, to you. Here are a couple of “love” verses from God’s Word to inspire you…
“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
God’s Valentine to us is and will forever be the greatest Valentine ever given, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.