Valentine’s Day was a few days ago.
You know I have to blurb a bit about this day of passion and romance, don’t you?
Believe it or not, I’ve always been a Valentine’s Day advocate, even for most of my life when I wasn’t particularly ever in love with anyone besides Freddie Prinze, Jr. Yes, it’s a holiday for lovers, but it’s also a holiday to celebrate the romance and passion in everything—not just “In A Relationship With” on Facebook. It’s also another undeniable excuse to celebrate and party heartily in the name of a “holiday”. (Why, yes I do even have a little par-tay on an obscure day such as Columbus Day–what of it!) I have a rant all ready for you, but first, I want to introduce you to St. Valentine—the reason for this season of love.
There was a time in history when the world was ruled by giant jerks (Hard to believe, right?) and one of these jerks in particular decided he was going to outlaw marriage (again, hard to believe!!! [sarcasm begins to shoot off the charts…]) This jerk’s name was Emperor Claudius II and he didn’t outlaw marriage for everyone—just for the soldiers fighting for him. He thought love and marriage would be too big of a distraction for his soldiers as they continued to battle for him. (Do I even have to note that segregating certain people out from being able to marry the love of his/her life is not an okay thing?)
So, in comes St. Valentine. Ol’ Val used to be a doctor, but then he became a Christian priest. This in itself was crazy because he lived in a time in this world in which most everyone else believed in multiple gods instead of just the one Valentine believed in. Val didn’t agree with this outlaw of marriage, so Val began to secretly perform marriages for the soldiers. Eventually, Val got busted, and the Emperor Claudius II threw Val in jail. But Val didn’t save his love and passion just for marrying people—even in jail, Val performed some seriously romantic miracles.
Valentine befriended nearly everyone in jail—even his own jailer—and he passionately told stories of his unconditional devotion to his faith and beliefs, even when the rest of the world seemed to be against him. Valentine’s jailer had a blind daughter, Julia, and eventually the jailer came to trust Valentine so much, that he asked if Valentine would read stories to Julia from books and teach her the ways of the world that she could not see. The jailer’s daughter and Val allegedly formed a friendship and further secret romance while Val read to her. There is even legend that Julia was cured of her blindness towards the end of Valentine’s stint in jail.
The emperor Claudius II actually really liked Valentine, so he offered a literal get out of jail free card for Valentine if he would renounce his faith and start believing in what everyone else did. Valentine refused, so sadly, he was put to death. Before his execution on February 14th, 270 A.D., Valentine wrote a letter to Julia, thanking her for her friendship and love, and he signed his letter “From Your Valentine”.
I bet you 9 out of 10 people really agree when they hear “Oh, Valentine’s Day is just a Hallmark holiday.” But isn’t that true of every holiday we have come to celebrate? Like our other days of celebration, Valentine’s Day has just as much of a solid basis for where it comes from than any.
And while I can appreciate the mottos we hear about “Happy Singles’ Awareness Day!” and “Stupid Cupid!”, I can’t say I agree with any negative connotation that goes along with it. Valentine’s Day is a happy day! It’s a day of passion, of romance, of love for whatever we choose! I love the hell out of my husband now and I do celebrate that love for him on Valentine’s Day, but there are other passions and romance that fill my heart that I also celebrate. (Yes, Netflix and moscato DO count as a Valentine!)
Before I had any significant other in my life, I still was just as excited about celebrating Valentine’s Day! Maybe it was a year to celebrate with a full heart with my girlfriends, or reading the newest HP book, or watching old videos of my parents’ wedding. Hell, there were some years I was excited to celebrate myself with Boone’s Farm and a Backstreet Boys in Concert Special on VHS.
St. Valentine was a man who was an advocate for love—not just when it comes to marriage or relationships. He represented love and passion and romance for human rights, for his faith, for keeping a kind heart, and to pour that love into all things—even when he was in the darkness of prison.
So, I challenge those of you who hate Valentine’s Day—for whatever your reasons—to see it in a new, rosier light next year. Not as a holiday for companions or candlelit kisses, but for a day to indulge in our lovely, wonderful, and often times cheesy and ridiculous passions. We live in a world now where we are not necessarily persecuted for these simple things as St. Valentine was so long ago. Let’s honor Val’s legacy to the fullest just this one day out of the year.
Let the jovial sound of chocolate wrappers ensue.