People are thinking romance for their Valentines this week. But when talking about Valentine’s Day, don’t forget that little mark.
My earliest memory of Valentine’s Day goes back to elementary school. Back in the first and second grades, everyone gave out Valentines.
Boys and girls gave one to all of their classmates, regardless of gender.
I can’t imagine what kind of can of worms such a practice would open these days. But back then, it was all about spreading friendship and belonging.
As we got older, somewhere along the way, we figured out that Valentine’s Day was meant to be a day to celebrate romantic love.
But exactly how we as a society reached that point is a bit murky.
It is named for a Saint…but it’s not clear which one.
Despite cards with messages like, “Be my Valentine,” the day is actually named for St. Valentine. The Catholic Church recognizes at least three martyred saints named Valentine or Valentinus.
One story involves St. Valentine performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. He also ministered to Christians whom the Roman Empire persecuted.
Imprisoned for his crimes, he met a charming young woman and miraculously healed her blindness. (You knew there had to be a miracle in there somewhere, or else he’d have never been known as “Saint Valentine.”)
Shortly before his death, he wrote her a letter which he signed “Your Valentine,” the legend claims.
There’s no way to know for sure whether it’s true, but it makes for a good story, right?
We’re not sure why Feb. 14 is the big day.
Well, that’s not entirely clear, either. Some believe the date was selected because it may have been the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial.
But others claim St. Valentine’s feast day was an attempt by Christians to replace a pagan fertility festival that occurred on Feb. 15 of every year. History.com describes it as “a bloody, violent and sexually-charged celebration awash with animal sacrifice, random matchmaking and coupling in the hopes of warding off evil spirits and infertility.”
But what we do know is it has evolved into a day of romance and love. And businesses from greeting card companies to restaurants see plenty of green thanks to the holiday.
If you celebrate Valentine’s Day, I hope you and your Valentine have a nice time together. Just remember to celebrate Valentine’s Day with that little apostrophe in the name.