Before You Ask Someone to Be Your Valentine...
“Millions send Valentine’s Day cards to express their affection for someone special. But how did this holiday originate? And does Valentine’s Day represent what true love is all about?
Does Valentine's Day really celebrate true, caring love?
Every year, more than a billion Valentine cards are bought and sent throughout the world. The act of sending a nice card seems to fill a natural yearning to express how much we care for someone.
But does Valentine’s Day really celebrate true, caring love? Or does this popular holiday actually promote something else?
Origins of Valentine’s Day
When we think of Valentine’s Day, we call to mind hearts, chocolates, flowers and expressions of love. Yet before joining in the fun, wouldn’t it be wise to know where this tradition came from?
Valentine’s Day may be acceptable to millions of people, but not to God.
First, we should understand that Valentine’s Day began when the early Roman Catholic Church tried to Christianize an ancient pagan Roman holiday called Lupercalia. That celebration was a licentious festival that honored Lupercus, the hero-hunter of wolves. This festival was so immensely popular among the Roman people that church leaders included it in their calendar, hoping to retain their new parishioners and turn them from sexual licentiousness to morality by linking it to a saint.
The saint they chose for this mid-February Roman festival was St. Valentine. One source explains:
“St. Valentine is believed to have been a Roman priest who was martyred on this day [February 14] around [A.D.] 270. How he became the patron saint of lovers remains a mystery, but one theory is that the Church used the day of St. Valentine’s martyrdom in an attempt to Christianize the old Roman Lupercalia, a pagan festival held around the middle of February.
“Part of the ancient ceremony entailed putting girls’ names in a box and letting the boys draw them out. Couples would thus be paired off until the following year. The Church substituted saints’ names for girls’ names, in the hope that the participant would model his life after the saint whose name he drew.
“But by the 16th century, it was once again girls’ names that ended up in the box. Eventually the custom of sending anonymous cards or messages to those one admired became the accepted way of celebrating St. Valentine’s Day” (Helene Henderson and Sue Ellen Thompson, editors, Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, “Valentine’s Day,” 2005, p. 576).
Although all historical sources contain some of the same notions about how Valentine’s Day developed, each one highlights another facet of the story. Another states:
“Some people have tried to connect the historical Saint Valentine with the later practices of Valentine’s Day by saying that the saint married couples despite the emperor’s prohibition, or that he sent a note signed ‘from your Valentine’ to the daughter of his jailer.
“However, the early Christian saint Valentine probably had nothing to do with the traditions later celebrated on his feast day; it is simply by his placement in the Christian calendar that his name became associated with it. Later, the word valentine may have been confused with the Norman French word galantine , meaning lover of women, as the G and V were often interchangeable in common pronunciation.
“In any case, February 14 gradually became a traditional date for exchanging love messages, and Saint Valentine became the patron saint of lovers” (Macmillan Profiles: Festivals and Holidays, 1999, p. 363). Continued at: https://www.ucg.org/good-news/before-you-ask-someone-to-be-your-valentine
Would Jesus Do Valentine’s?
“A few years ago the acronym WWJD became really popular—it stands for “What Would Jesus Do?”
So here’s a question for this time of the year: Would Jesus do Valentine’s?
Well, why not? one could argue. It’s all about love, romance and showing sweetness to someone special. Sounds like the kind of thing Jesus is all about!
But think about this for a minute: The only reason we have Valentine’s Day today is because someone started it somewhere. We can’t simply put Jesus in our context today and ask if He would be celebrating Valentine’s, without first asking would He have celebrated it when it first became popularized.
So let’s rewind history just a bit. Going way back, centuries before Jesus, the Romans had a big, three-day long religious celebration—a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus. Faunus was the Roman equivalent to the Greek god Pan. He was also associated with the god Lupercus, from which this festival got the name Lupercalia, which was celebrated between the 13th and 15th of February.
All the lore surrounding the goings-on of this festival is a little murky. Some say that after the sacrifices and rituals to pray for the gods’ blessings for fertility, the bachelors would draw from an urn the names of young women, and they would be paired with them for a year, maybe longer if the relationship worked out. Others debate that, but we do know enough to conclude that, well, let’s just say that the pagans knew how to mix a lot of illicit sex into their religious celebrations.
So skip ahead a few hundred years and—I’ll just quote from a National Public Radio report—“Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals.” Knowing how popular it was with the masses, though, he said, we’ll still have something on Feb. 14, but we’ll honor Saint Valentine, a fellow Catholic legend says was martyred. As NPR says, “The festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. Lenski adds, ‘It was a little more of a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes back on it. That didn’t stop it from being a day of fertility and love.’”
The AmericanCatholic.org website says Gelasius “changed the lottery to have both young men and women draw the names of saints whom they would then emulate for the year (a change that no doubt disappointed a few young men). Instead of Lupercus, the patron of the feast became Valentine.
“For Roman men, the day continued to be an occasion to seek the affections of women, and it became a tradition to give out handwritten messages of admiration that included Valentine’s name.”
And let’s not forget about Cupid—where did he come from? Well, in Roman mythology Cupid is the son of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. He himself is the god of raw desire, erotic love and attraction; and he was worshipped because he could cause people to fall in love by shooting them with his love-potion arrows. So, that cute little cherub on your greeting card?—a Roman god.
So would Jesus have done Valentine’s Day when it first appeared on the scene in modern Christianity? Would He have said, “Hey, I don’t have any problem with you borrowing a little religion here and there from the pagans. Want to weave their idols and gods into My religion? Go for it. Don’t worry about that silly commandment about idolatry and no other gods before Me. My God, Roman gods—no big deal.”
“Valentine’s and WWJD”—what would Jesus do? That’s pretty clear.
The real question is “Valentine’s and WWYD”—what will you do?”
Another article: What's Wrong With Showing Love?
The Bible study at the apartment club house on Sunday afternoons is from the book of Philippians for the next few weeks. Not very many show up, but those who do, are very attentive to the programs that the pastor shows from his laptop onto the big TV. Then he asks questions and there are discussions. On Monday we had another “Strengthening The Relationships that Matter” meeting put on by Texas A & M AgriLife Extension.
Wednesday, I had the van inspected and then drove to Anderson, TX, the county seat of Grimes County, to get the new tags. This is the first year since I have had it, that I haven’t had to spend money on the van to get it past inspection.
Blow me down, I had to go back to Anderson the next day, a neighbor needed a ride to get their box at the food pantry. Then I dropped off another neighbor at their doctor’s office and came back to play Bingo at the club house. By the time that was over, the neighbor was ready to be picked up.
For someone who doesn’t like to go gallivanting around, my van sure was kept busy this week, because another neighbor and I went to HEB grocery store in College Station on Friday. But they got a phone call and I didn’t get to do all the things that I needed to do there because we had to rush back. Then it was time for my other Bible study which is studying Daniel, ready for the next day’s Bible School before the church service.
I bought some chocolate cookies with white chocolate chunks for the church potluck, but they turned into little brown rocks, so I made them into a trifle by pouring vanilla pudding over them. That softened them up and made a nice dessert.
The Teaching at the church today, “One People In Christ”, was given by a black lady because it is Black History Month. It was about a lady who was very instrumental in getting Christianity and the truth about the Sabbath widely published, but was very poorly treated when she was sick with cancer and needed care, because she was black.
My little “Foxie”, the American Eskimo dog who looks like a little white fox, is gradually realizing that no one, or thing, is going to hurt her here. She finally walks with her tail over her back instead of tucked between her legs. Because she has mostly been a good girl about peeing outside, I am rewarding her by letting her loose in the apartment instead of in her big crate, when I am home during the day.