The world of professing Christendom recently celebrated an annual event known as Valentine’s Day–a lover’s festival complete with heart-shaped candy, little chubby boys with wings and cards expressing eternal love or something of that nature. “Everyone knows” that there is something about mid-February that inspires love to blossom. My old college president said without fail during this time period: “The sap’s rising.”
Valentine’s Day is also a high time for the retail world. Candy merchants and flower providers see a significant uplift in sales leading up to and on the magical day. In the United States this special time generates some 18 billion dollars for those who deal with candy, flowers, cards, etc. Half of the engagements each year are arranged on Valentine’s Day. Truly, this is an important day in the life of any society that celebrates it.
This is also a day to either verbally or in script express admiration, love, infatuation or secret worship from afar. The mode of deliverance for this expression of affection is Valentine’s Cards. One of the reasons this date was chosen to express love for another is the belief that birds choose their partners on February 14th.
The irony relative to the special day is that many church people lament the commercialization of the holiday, believing that St. Valentine’s Day is a Christian festival. The question is, does Valentine’s Day trace its roots to God’s church? Another question: Does anyone care? What is not known by those who look forward to that special day each spring is that, like Christmas and Easter, Valentine’s Day was being celebrated by heathen societies thousands of years before Christ walked this earth. That being an historically proven fact, the next question becomes: From whence did Valentine’s Day come and how did it become part of professing Christendom?
To answer that question we must return to the time when the Roman Empire ruled much of the world. Following the establishment of the Catholic Church in A.D. 33, pagans began to flow into the “Universal Church” by the thousands. This unusual act on their part was due to the fact that the Roman Empire served as the church’s recruiter. Rome’s method of persuasion was the threat of death for resisting her persuasive methods.
During its formative years the Romish church routinely practiced the art of blending heathen beliefs and practices with the mother church’s doctrines and customs in an attempt to sooth the religious feathers of her new “converts.” As was also her custom, the church routinely assigned the names of saints to her various celebrations. St. Valentine was a third century presbyter who secretly married couples against the will of the Roman authorities. He was beheaded for his efforts. He was later venerated and assigned the honor of becoming St. Valentine’s Day’s patron saint. L.J.