Big red hearts filled with white chocolate, pink teddy bears, flower boutiques, and glitter “I love you to the moon and back” cards…Do any of these sound familiar to you? Of course, I’m talking about February 14th, also known as VALENTINE’S DAY. But the big question is…Should we celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Is it really a tradition we believe in? While some people might strongly believe in it, others don’t. Generally speaking, any Christian can celebrate this day if they want to. There is nothing wrong with sending a box of chocolates to a friend or your significant other. In fact, let’s discuss why some Christians celebrate Valentine’s Day and why others don’t!
First things first, one of the most important reasons why some Christians prefer not to celebrate this day is because of the pagan festival of Lupercalia. There are some people that strongly believe Valentine’s Day was placed around the time of Lupercalia in order to “Christianize” the time around the festival, but this is just a popular story without any evidence to actually sustain the theory.
In reality, there are Christians who celebrate Valentine’s Day with enthusiasm, and others that don’t, because of how commercialized it has become. In order to understand better if Christians should celebrate it or not, we should first understand its origins.
Where did Valentine’s Day come from?
There are many unknown things surrounding the origins of the mysterious Valentine’s Day. There are currently many people who are debating when it exactly started and who started it. The most common origin story is the story of St. Valentine.
St. Valentine is considered to have been a priest that lived during the third century in Rome. After Emperor Claudius II decided that single men are better soldiers, he outlawed marriage for young men. So, Valentine went behind the Emperor’s back and performed marriages in secret. When the Emperor discovered, Valentine was sentenced to death.
There are other stories that suggest that Valentine helped Christians escape the Roman prisons. In this story, Valentine was imprisoned when he sent the first valentine’s letter to a young lady. He sent it to his jailor’s daughter. Before he died, it is believed that he wrote her another letter and signed it, ”From your Valentine.”
Time went by and Saint Valentine became more and more popular. While we don’t know for sure if any of these stories are true, Saint Valentine is still considered to be a romantic saint who helped many people to be together.
How Valentine’s Day evolved in time
In the 19th century, there was a trend circulating among Valentine’s Day practitioners: Valentine’s cards. At first, it started with handwritten cards and then mass-produced cards become more popular. In fact, there were so many demands, that they started making cards in factories. The cards were made with lace and ribbon.
In 1868, the first box of chocolates was created by a company called Cadbury. The boxes were called “Fancy Boxes”. Halfway through the 20th century, it became a normal thing to exchange cards with gifts and chocolate.
Another thing that has been around since the beginning is the poems. People submit the poems they wrote for each other to the local newspaper, in hopes that they will be published and seen by their loved ones.
In fact, newspapers had a whole section dedicated to poems and short love stories for the lovers that were celebrating Valentine’s. The ritual was truly beautiful, as many people used to search through Valentine’s Day cards in order to find one with the proper poem inside of it. In fact, here is Valentine’s poem that was included in the Springfield Republican by Elizabeth Barrett:
“How do I love thee? Let me just count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and heights my soul can reach when deeling out of sight for the end of Being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the point of every day’s most quiet need by sum and candlelight. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I adore thee purely, as they turn from Praise.”
- Elizabeth Barrett, 16 July 1874, page 3 Springfield Republican
Valentine’s Day these days
Today we celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th. It’s a celebration of love that remained ever since the days of Saint Valentine. On this day, people express their love and gratitude towards each other, to their lover, friend, and family, by buying candies, stuffed animals, or chocolate-covered fruits with Valentine’s cards attached to them. Let’s reveal five interesting facts about Valentine’s Day:
- 144 million greeting cards are sent every year;
- Americans spend $20.7 billion dollars every year on Valentine’s Day;
- 3 in 10 people won’t celebrate this day in America;
- 3% of pet owners will give gifts to their animals on Valentine’s Day.
On the other hand, many couples would prefer to go out to dinner and a movie on February 14th. In fact, the average person spends $152 dollars on Valentine’s Day. Now that we discussed a bit the history of this day and how people are celebrating it, we can ask ourselves: Can Christians celebrate it? Let’s see why Christians should celebrate Valentine’s Day!
Why Christians celebrate it
As Christians, we are constantly encouraged to love each other. Romans 12:10 said: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Christians can use Valentine’s Day to prove their love for one another.
I know someone that has a card-making party each year before Valentine’s. She invites people to try a mindful exercise, and think of everyone who wouldn’t receive anything for Valentine’s Day and make them a homemade card.
She sends Valentine’s cards to people who have suffered a loss in their family or people who don’t celebrate Valentine’s with anyone. She uses Valentine’s Day to remind everyone in her life that they are loved and appreciated.
So, from this point of view, Christians are encouraged to celebrate this festive day. There is nothing wrong with showing someone through a card or flowers that they are appreciated and loved!
Why some Christians don’t celebrate it
There are two essential reasons why some Christians ignore this celebration. Some believe that it’s too commercialized and others believe it has pagan roots.
First of all, Valentine’s Day is indeed a very commercialized holiday. It was estimated that Americans spend somewhere near $20.7 billion on Valentine’s Day. But truth to be told, most of the holidays in America are overly commercialized. For example, think of Christmas.
Christmas is another celebration day when we give each other gifts and watch movies about Santa Claus. There are many people who forget about the fact that it’s first a celebration of Jesus and His birth.
But does this mean that Christians shouldn’t give Christmas gifts? Giving gifts is, after all, a good thing. The problem appears when people focus more on gifts than Jesus’ birth. Christians can give gifts at Christmas time as long as Jesus remains the center of the day.
This example of Christmas is just to prove how other holidays are just as commercialized as Valentine’s Day, and this doesn’t mean that people should stop celebrating this holiday. But this doesn’t mean that Christians MUST celebrate Valentine’s either way. All it means is that although it’s a highly commercialized holiday, it’s not wrong if you want to celebrate it as a Christian.
On the other hand, some people believe that this holiday has pagan roots. While it’s still uncertain where Valentine’s Day came from, some people do believe that it began when Saint Valentine performed those secret ceremonies of marriage, whereas others believe it all started because of the ancient pagan celebration of Lupercalia.
Celebration of Lupercalia
Lupercalia is a yearly pagan celebration that is celebrated on February 15th. This festive day involved rituals with animal sacrifice and lots of other scandalous practices. The purpose of it was for women to have a year full of fertility.
There are some people that believe Christians put Valentine’s Day around the time of Lupercalia in order to “Christianize” February. But, in reality, there isn’t any historical evidence to back this up.
Most people will say that February 14th was the day Saint Valentine was martyred, and that’s the only reason we celebrate Valentine’s on February 14th.
In conclusion, there’s nothing wrong with being a Christian and wanting to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Also, there’s nothing wrong with not celebrating it. It’s a personal decision that doesn’t affect you in any matter. Even so, it’s best to remind others once in a while that they are loved and appreciated.