ON A PERSONAL NOTE/By Maramis
I’m sure many of you out there have looked up the history or origin of Valentine’s Day at one time or another. If you were looking for
something to justify your reason for celebrating love (your love in particular) on February 14th, you wouldn’t really find it that way.
As I’ve mentioned several times before, it really doesn’t matter why we have certain holidays in this country, or what particular event led to the first time we called it what it is called today; what matters is why we celebrate it today and what it means to us in our present time.
Christmas is probably the best and easiest example of that to understand. December 25 came to be the day on which those who believe that Jesus, the baby born to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago, born an ordinary baby, was also the Son of God. (The hows and whys of that are not the point of this column.) Therefore, the day that he was born, Jesus’ so-called birthday, was of great importance to believers and they needed to pick a day, since they really didn’t know for sure when that was.
Since there are many different versions of what led to December 25 being chosen as Jesus’ birthday, one of them is simply that it happened to be celebrated as the birthday of Mithras. And since there were already many who were followers of Mithras, the pagan god, and held his birthday to be of importance to them, it seemed like a good way to get the Mithraic worshippers to fall in with Christianity, since they would both be sharing that December 25 birthday of their “god.”
That is a very simplified way to put it. But then, this is not about Christmas; this is about Valentine’s Day. And even more than that, it is about love, which actually has little to do with how Valentine’s Day came to be named and celebrated.
While Valentine’s Day, in our time, is always about love, it certainly had little to do with the two priests named Valentine who were both put to death (executed) by Emperor Claudius II on February 14, in different years, back in the 3rd century A.D.
As one legend goes, the Emperor Claudius II prohibited soldiers from marrying. However, one Valentine defied the orders and secretly married young couples to spare husbands from going to war. Valentine was imprisoned, tortured and beheaded. According to another legend, when the other Valentine was imprisoned, he was already considered a saint among those who knew him. Since he had befriended his jailer’s daughter, the jailer took advantage of him and asked Valentine to heal his daughter’s blindness. He did, and sent a letter to the girl, signed “from your Valentine.”
So one Valentine was involved in secret marriages and the other had written a letter to a girl that he had signed “From your Valentine.”
That is the extent of either of those priests named Valentine being involved in or with Valentine’s Day. They were considered saints in the Catholic Church and their feast day was set on February 14, their day of death.
It was quite a jump to the Valentine’s Day of today, but along the way, love was brought into it but the first Valentine Cards were not made until 1849, by Esther Howland of Worcester, Mass. Hallmark got on board and first offered Valentine’s Day cards in 1913 and began mass producing them in 1916. They were catching on.
Love has not only been a feeling between lovers, but it is mentioned in the Bible in several places and is core to those who believe in God. First, there is 1 John 4:7-12. “Dear friends: let us love one
another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
And then, there is 1 John 4:16: “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”
But for Valentine’s Day, no one really thinks of God’s love, either in how he loves us, or being the source of the love we feel. Yet even the Bible shares words of love that applies directly to lovers, likely husbands and wives. These beautiful words of love are found in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not
self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” Chances are no one has to explain why love is so popular. Whether or not people are getting divorced, people are still continuing to get married. They continue to fall in love and want to express that love, not only on Valentine’s Day, but as often as possible.
But even though we can see that those in marketing are making big bucks by commercializing and even exploiting Valentine’s Day to the max, especially regarding those top sellers that woman seem to love — first, jewelry; next, a big night out to a fancy restaurant; and of course, those ever-popular runners-up of flowers and chocolates — women will still want to feel remembered and cared about — loved —in whatever way her husband or lover feels moved to remember her on that special day of love: Valentine’s Day.
And just in case anyone wonders if they’re really in love, remember this quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a French writer who lived from 1900 to 1944 — True love begins when nothing is looked for in return.
For those who want to keep it simple, or don’t have any money to make it fancy, words of love throughout the centuries can always touch the heart of a woman (or maybe even a man) that you love. Just Google up love quotes, and you’ll find hundreds to choose from.
Whether or not you know how Valentine’s Day started, what really matters in today’s world is that it’s a day for acknowledging love, mostly to the one love in your life. And while you might think it’s
just commercial, your loved one will still appreciate any little extra acknowledgement of your love. Anyone can draw the outline of a little red heart and write upon it those three little words that every loved one wants to hear.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all!
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE/By Maramis