The one I love the most and choose to believe speaks of a priest serving in Rome during the 3rd century. Emperor Claudius the second decreed that single men made better soldiers than married men and outlawed marriage for young men. This first Valentine rebelled against the decree and continued to marry young men in secrecy. He was ordered put to death when his actions were discovered by the emperor. He was buried on February 14, around 270 AD. What a romantic.
Other scholars argue that the Christian church replaced a pagan fertility festival with a feast day. Scholars point to the pagan festival of Lupercalia which was held on February 15th. I won’t go into the details, but the fertility festival basically entailed sacrificing goats or dogs, stripping the hides into strips, and then walking through the village hitting the women with the bloody strips to improve their fertility for the upcoming year. Fantastic.
I’ll leave it to you to decide which legend to believe.
I think Valentine’s Day has gotten a bad rap over the years. Yes, I know that it is a huge day for the greeting card, florist, and candy industries. Yes, I agree that we should tell each other how much we love and appreciate them every day of our lives. Here is the truth though, we take each other for granted all the time. And I’m not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, the knowledge that I just wrote that last sentence makes me cringe. Feeling unappreciated and unvalued is a terrible way to feel. On the other hand though, there is something comfortable about a love that doesn’t need a show and constant attention, but continues to thrive in the beauty of everyday ordinary life.
I have been married for 5 ½ years now to a wonderful man who is the best friend I’ve ever had. We have been together for 9 years and 11 months. I can barely remember the days when our love was new and everything was scary and uncertain. When every word and action was endlessly analyzed and agonized over. When going out meant preening in front of the mirror to make sure we looked amazing. When we used to celebrate the monthly anniversaries of the first time we ______ (fill in the blank with some dating milestone).
Our love now is certain and stable. We say hurtful things and stupid things and lovely things at all times because we feel safe to speak our minds. Going out now may include unwashed hair, no make-up, and yesterday’s t-shirt. We celebrate the years we’ve been together, and the decades we have to look forward to.I love our life now. I don’t miss the craziness of dating someone new. I am comfortable and safe and happy.
So while Valentine’s Day is just another day on the calendar, I do want it to be special. I want to call attention to the fact that I’m thankful for his love and appreciate the light he brings to my world just by being in it. If it wasn’t for Valentine’s Day, tomorrow might pass as just another Tuesday in our life together, but that one day on the calendar with a heart drawn around it forces us to call attention to our life together and be thankful for it.
We can run through life and forget to breathe. We can get lost in the search for an adventurous and extraordinary life. The beauty of forever love is that we can get found in the realization of the extraordinary nature of the “everydays” that we get to share with each other. The realization that a shared love is extraordinary in its existence. The discovery of complete love is the definition of an extraordinary life.
So while tomorrow may not bring me flowers at work, extravagant dinners, or trips around the world, it will bring me the knowledge that I love and am loved completely and infinitely. Doesn’t get much better than that if you ask me.
I hope you have a fantastic holiday tomorrow and take time to recognize those that are important in your everyday life even if it’s not cool to do it. And remember, just because it’s Hallmark doesn’t mean it’s not true.
Note: Valentine's Day research provided by www.history.com