Saint Valentine's Day
Where do you begin with an obscure holiday like Valentine’s Day? With such a history and connection to several cultures, and getting your research solely from Wikipedia, it seems like nobody really knows why this holiday is celebrated the way it is. It’s like they were just looking for a reason to celebrate fertility and romance, mating and dating. Lupercalia, Chaucer, martyrdom, courtly love, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre – there are so many characteristics that make Valentine’s Day what it is. But let’s start with an easy intro by talking about the man behind the holiday.
Saint Valentine, Martyr
The name of Valentine’s Day comes from the fact that it was the feast day of Saint Valentine, just like it’s Saint Patrick and Doctor Martin Luther King Junior. Come on, guys! They work hard for these titles!
There isn’t much we know about St. Valentine, except for his name, and that he was martyred. Literally, that’s all we know as fact. From early martyrology records (that’s the study of martyrs for those of you who dropped out of Sunday school), it’s suggested that St. Valentine is the patron of lovers because he performed weddings during the time of persecution in the Roman Empire – marrying soldiers who at the time were not allowed to take a wife and have a family. (Aw, cute!) Well, ultimately he met a horrible torture and beheading on February 14th, hence the feast day.
But all these legends about St. Valentine were written in records that aren’t considered as legit as other records on martyrs. They may be true, but also have a tendency to embellish and combine the fates of several saints of the time. So, the Catholic Church dropped the feast day from its General Calendar in 1969, even though St. Valentine remains in Roman Martyology (the official list of martyrs for the Church). You can still celebrate the feast day locally, and pay tribute to the saint because regardless of whether the whole rebellious wedding chaplain thing is true, he still definitely died for love in the highest form possible: agape – a sacrificial love.
But that’s all anybody has officially. A name, and a death. Romantic, right? Well, don’t let it turn you off from the holiday. There are two great things we in Orlando can take away from this small, obscure pre-commercialized history of the person behind St. Valentine’s Day.
1.) Love is great, and requires great sacrifice every day of the year. Not just on St. Valentine’s Day. The flowers and chocolates, gifts and romantic surprises are all great temporary representations of our affection. But infinite representations, like the love St. Valentine believed in, must happen every day of the year - and they can’t be ordered from a florist or boxed. They’re acts of love, kindness, and sacrifice. It’s the kind of love worth dying for. Let’s be honest, you can’t get more romantic than that.
2.) For all you single people, St. Valentine spent Valentine’s Day single too. And he died a horrible death on top of being single. So, those of you who are dreading a St. Valentine’s Day spent alone, remember that history shows that a lot of great people accomplished great acts of love that were far deeper than giving someone a box of chocolates or a card, and they didn’t need to hold someone’s hand to do it. No one had a worse (or better depending on how you see it) Valentine’s Day than the saint himself who died for what he believed in. If you’re in dating limbo, celebrate St. Valentine’s Day by showing love for your life, your friends, your family, and your beliefs, whatever they may be. Spend time with loved ones and go out on the town in Orlando! This isn’t a day to be cooped up. It’s a day to celebrate community.
Oh yeah, and the Valentine’s Day Massacre wasn’t a horrible breakup that happened last year. It’s a whole Godfather mafia thing, but, we’ll leave that part of the history for another year.
For more Valentine's Day events and things to do in Orlando, click here.