The people who know me best (or people who have read this blog for more than a year) know that I love Valentine's Day.
Now let me make it clear that Jack and I don't make a big deal out of Valentine's day. Occasionally we'll go out on a date, but we do that pretty much every weekend any way. He's gotten me flowers before on Valentine's day, but there has been a "no gifts" agreement the last few years (plus, it's much more fun to get flowers on random Thursdays). So I hope you know that this is not about gifts for me, or even about being with someone on Valentine's Day.
No, I love Valentine's Day for the same reason I hate Halloween; I take a lot of stock in the history of holidays. After all, we are so ridiculously concerned about keeping Christ in Christmas and remembering to be thankful on Thanksgiving, and yet we don't give a crap about the fact that somebody died because he believed in the sanctity of marriage.
Let me explain with some history:
Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree [Mandy's interjection: ...and realizing that God created marriage and it was not Biblical to outlaw it], defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Saint Valentine was a martyr for his faith. A martyr. Is it just me, or is that admirable? Like, special place in Heaven kind of admirable?
And yes, there's a sweet, romantic story to go along with this tale:
According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor's daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today.
Valentine or not this year, don't you want that kind of romance someday? Everybody wants a good story, and Valentine had it.
So before you post bitter Facebook statuses and tweets about how Valentine's Day is a scam that Hallmark created to get your money, or how you're single right now and you hate everyone because of it, just remember the big picture here. He stood up for what he believed in. He followed God's rules when the world's rules said something else.
And I think that's something to celebrate.