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Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine's Day: The Origins of the Holiday

So, some people may be wondering what the origins of the Valentine's Day holiday actually are. I mean, we all know that we exchange gifts of love, we get our loved one roses, chocolate, and massages, but does anyone really know why we do these things?

According to the wikipedia entry, the holiday of Valentine's Day was actually created in honor of several saints with the name of Valentine who were martyred in early Christendom. The stories of their martyrdom may have been confused with the stories of other saints who were also matryred in the same, or even in different, periods of time.

One of the saints with the name Valentine was imprisoned in Rome, and questioned by the Roman emperor of the time, Claudius II. The Roman emperor attempted to convert Saint Valentine to the religion of pagan worship practiced by the Romans. Naturally, this was unsuccessful, and Saint Valentine was executed. He was reported to have performed a miraculous healing on the daughter of his jailer, whose name was Julia. He is reported to have written her a note that was signed as "Your Valentine." After his death, his jailer Asterius and his entire household of forty four people believed in Jesus and were baptized.

This same Saint Valentine was reported to have have performed Christian weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. According to these same legends, Saint Valentine was said to have cut heart shapes from red paper and given them to the Roman soldiers to remind them of their vows and of God's love. Saint Valentine is also said to have worn a purple amethyst ring engraved with an image of Cupid, since this symbol of love was allowable by the Roman government of the time.

Centuries later, many of these origins have long since been forgotten, but these great saints have become permanently associated with love and affection. Exchanging of gifts signifying love and affection still remains in our modern society, although in many cases the gifts have become more elaborate. Whereas in centuries past, lovers may have exchanged hand written notes and candy to show their love and affection, today lovers may exchange roses, chocolate, greeting cards, and spa or massage gift certificates. One of the more popular modern displays of love is to give your spouse or loved one a couples massage, where you both receive a massage together. Such a relaxing event is often the prelude to a romantic evening which may include an elaborate dinner prepared by a chef, a candlelit dinner, perhaps even taking in a movie either at home or at the theater, or even attending a Broadway show.

We welcome your comments below on what your idea of the perfect Valentine's Day might be. Do you have dinner out or in? Chocolates, flowers, candy, and cards? A movie at the local theater or in your home (Netflix or Amazon)? Let us know what are your favorite traditions, and we might use your contributions in a later blog :-)

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