Today, of course, is Valentine’s Day, one of the modern Hallmark days for celebrating romantic love. I thought I would reflect on it a bit, both in general, and in my own personal experience.
There seem to have been at least three martyrs named Valentine in the early church. There is not a great deal known about any of them, but what little is known is easy to find online. There is a romantic story that one of them was a priest who performed marriages illegally against the wishes of Emperor Claudius II, but that’s simply a legend. As I’ve explored elsewhere, Christian priests didn’t perform any sort of marriage ceremony until after the Church became the official religion of the Empire.
None of the feast days for the three St. Valentines are on February 14, either. That day seems to have become significant in medieval Europe because it was considered to be the day on which the birds began to pair up with mates. Romance in the Middle Ages was not quite what it is today.
Now, of course, it’s a highly commercialized holiday that many men fear screwing up more than with any anticipation. I’ve never really been one of those sorts of men, but I have grown tired at times of the relentless commercial and unrealistic messages with which we are all bombarded at this time of the year.
Our first Valentine’s Day after we were married, my wife and I were embroiled in the medical care and custody battle for my older son. It was something that dominated many of the early years of our marriage and continued to one extent or another perhaps even up to the present.
Going out for Valentine’s was out of the question and we had little money. So I bought what I could at the grocery store and turned it into the best late night feast and celebration that I could.
The following Valentine’s Day, we added a newborn and so the whirlwind of life continued. We’ve maintained our little tradition through it all to this day. Sometimes now I can afford to be more extravagant with the ingredients than I could those early years. And the “late night” dinner has crept earlier and earlier over time. Traditions are good, I think. They become imbued with meaning and with remembrance. They tie together the years.
Anyone else have any Valentine’s Day traditions?