Valentine’s Day… dare I say it’s probably a more loathed holiday versus a loved holiday, contrary to its theme and modern intent? Christians have been very bold in their disgrace towards the commercialization of Easter and Christmas; why are we not as vocal about Valentine’s Day? And should we? Although it is a holiday aimed at sharing love with those closest to us, is it a secular celebration? What are the origins of Valentine’s Day and are there really Christian foundations in this holiday? Is there any harm in cupid, red hearts, candy, flowers, and romantic dinners?
At one time, a pre-Roman pastoral festival known as Lupercalia was observed from February 13th through the 15th. This three-day festival time of celebration was acclaimed to refine the city, deter evil spirits, and increase health and fertility. As Christianity continued to grow, the festival was adapted over time by different cultures and people began to add their own customs.
The patron St. was a priest and physician in ancient Rome and was well-known for his kindness and generosity towards others. He spent much of his time caring for the poor, performing good deeds, and healing the sick and afflicting. He was arrested by the Roman emperor Claudius Gothicus (268-270 AD) during the time of Christian persecution. During his time under arrest he healed his attending officer’s blind, adopted daughter which led to the officers’ family’s conversion to Christianity. Gothicus heard of these “deeds” and ordered St. Valentine to be beheaded on February 14th.
While the Lupercalia festival was still highly respected, it was Pope Gelasius who officially added February 14th as a holiday on the church list in 496 AD, known as St. Valentine’s Day. From that point forward, this day was honored and celebrated in memory of St. Valentine for his life of service. The new name of the Lupercalia festival was easily adapted and new elements to the holiday were quickly added into the fold. The emphasis on the holiday was never meant to reflect romantic love but to honor St. Valentine and mirror agape love and goodwill towards all people. It was never about cards, flowers, and chocolate candy. But somehow the commercialization has managed to taint the holiday and steer our focus away from loving others in need.
God is not opposed to us loving others; it’s quite the opposite. He commands us to love others unconditionally. God wants us to show love to others through words and actions, “Let us not love in word or talk bur in deed and in truth,” 1 John 3:18. While God wants romantic love shared between a husband and wife, He wants us to show love to others as well. We should be doing both year-round, not just on a single day when an overly-commercialized holiday says we should be showing love to our significant other. It should be our mission to love others at all times and make sure our actions show God’s love.
Romans 15:13 says this, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This is the highest and most respected form of love. As Christians, we certainly need to love and honor the spouse God blessed us with, but we need to do away with our love for “things”. Let’s celebrate the holiday in memory of Saint Valentine – by doing something special and anonymously for someone in need. Spend the day and your money modestly on others.
You might also like:
1. A Jesus Lover’s New Year’s Resolution
2. Christians and Biblical Marriage
3. Does Santa Belong in Our Christmas Celebrations?
4. Christian Focus on Thanksgiving
5. Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?