Valentine’s Day Is Here

February 14 is the Festival of St. Valentine. Unfortunately, there are no fewer than fourteen guys named Valentine on the Roman Catholic tally of saints, so no one is completely sure which one is being memorialized. It might be that the day is reserved for all of them – sort of like Veterans’ Day, I guess.

The best candidate for being the original St. Valentine is a Roman priest named Valentinius who was martyred during the reign of Claudius Gothicus, around the year 270 CE. Although the details are sketchy, Valentinius was apparently caught in the act of performing Christian marriages – which was punishable by death.

Claudius took a liking to Valentinius and probably would have spared his life, but Valentinius took the overtures of friendship as indicators that Claudius might be interested in converting to Christianity. Valentinius was – mistaken.

The emperor had him hauled outside of town and clubbed. When that didn’t kill him, they stoned him. When the executioners got tired of that, they just whacked off his head with a sword.

What does this teach us? That Hallmark can turn anything into a cash cow.

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5 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day Is Here

    • Valentine’s Day has no significance for us. It’s just a day. It’s kind of like Thanksgiving to us. Why make a special day for something you should be doing every day?

      • I just don’t see how that conversation went well. “Honey, Valentine’s day is all about just taking our money, let’s just pretend every day is Valentine’s day!” It reminds me a little of when I tried to explain that “diamonds” don’t have any real value, they are just artificially inflated by greedy diamond cartels like De Beers.
        You really don’t see any value in days like Valentines and Thanksgiving? How about this (I know I’m going to regret bringing theology into this), commemorative days are a good thing because God set the precedent for them. Sure it would have been great if the Israelites taught their kids every day why and how they were brought out of Egypt (and to a lesser extent of course they should), but instead God instituted a special day for it, along with some others, as well. Sure the people that sold the little hyssop branches made an extra shekel or two on those days, but God felt they were important none-the-less.

      • My wife has no real use for diamonds, and would have agreed with you on your evaluation of them. Actually, the conversation went more like this.

        ERIK: I don’t see the point of spending money on cards.
        NICHOLE: Me either.
        ERIK: Do you want flowers once a year or throughout the year?
        NICHOLE: Let’s go with ‘throughout the year’.
        ERIK: Sounds good.

        We don’t get into the whole medieval and patently absurd idea of courtly love that is the foundation of most western expectations of ‘love.’

        I know you didn’t just pull Torah as an argument for two totally American holidays, so I will just pretend like you didn’t. Valentine’s day isn’t just a couple of people making a little extra money. Hallmark literally invented a perpetual industry around it.

  1. While still observed in Anglican and Lutheran Churches, Valentine hasn’t been on the Roman calendar since 1969.

    Instead, Feb. 14 belongs to Sts. Cyril and Methodius, 9th century apostles to the Slavs, known for translating the Scriptures (e.g., Cyrillic alphabet)

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