As is prone to happen, the history of St. Valentine, the Patron Saint of February 14, is subject to fact with a bit of myth. Perhaps the oral tradition which passed it from generation to generation embellished the story or perhaps the prevailing cultural narrative shifted the facts a bit, regardless, it all began with a third century priest who helped young lovers break the law and wed. Emperor Claudius, in his determination to build an efficient and focused army, forbid the practice of marriage for his single soldiers. Valentine would secretly wed forlorn couples in direct violation of Claudius’ decree. The story continues helping to explain our modern traditions by suggesting Valentine, thrown into prison for his nuptial misconduct, himself, fell in love. He would write his muse letters, always signing them with: Your Valentine. This is said to have occurred until his punishment of death brought it to a cold end. The defender of love, Saint Valentine’s post-mortal popularity spread throughout the continent and by the Middle Ages the practice of writing and delivering handmade Valentine notes was growing in popularity. Americans joined in during the 18th -century, and with a bit of irony the American Greeting Card industry, determined to build an efficient and focused profit, created pre-printed Valentine’s Day cards in the 19th-century.
I happen to be a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. I can think of very little worthier of a day of celebration than the beauty and preciousness of romantic love. I can bow my head in understanding to the skeptics who criticize the commercialism and inflated prices of roses, chocolates, jewelry and stuffed animals bigger than your body. I can, with a bit of snark, accept those who have turned the day into a single appreciation’s day rebellion. I applaud Galentine’s Day dinners and I salute those who use February 14 as a Treat Yo’ Self day of self-love. No matter how it is celebrated, devoting a full day to the celebration of Love just seems like a good use of a day to me.
It was after we were engaged, in the midst of pre-marital counseling, Jonesy and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day as a couple. Jonesy, ever the pragmatic, seldom the over-the-top romantic, had to ask our preacher and counselor what day Valentine’s Day fell on. He may have had to be reminded of that date a handful of times since then. He is a phenomenal extender of love, but tends to fall into the “bah-humbug” crowd of what he considers a Hallmark holiday. However, knowing and loving my ever-so-not- pragmatic heart and my the-bigger-the-better ideas about all the holidays, he has loved me where I am, with sweet gifts and beautiful handwritten notes for more than 21 years. I feed him, don’t spend any money on him and shower him with affection—speaking his love languages with fluency that only comes from total immersion. It is loving this amazing man that makes the day all the more sweet.
I extend a virtual construction paper heart to you all, bordered with a cut up doily, and glue printed words covered with silver glitter saying: May love fill your heart not only today, but all your days, 4-ever.
Happy Valentine’s Day!!