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-What Ever Happened to the ‘Saint’ in Valentine’s Day?

by Dr. D ~ February 14th, 2013

English: Saint Valentine kneeling

          (Saint Valentine kneeling: Wikipedia)

It used to be called ‘Saint’ Valentine’s Day. At least that’s what we used to call it when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. But somewhere along the line the ‘Saint’ part has been substantially dropped from the name. Check any calendar and reference today and you’ll find that now it’s just plain old ‘Valentine’s Day.’

It all started out as a feast day commemorating a 3rd century Christian priest named Valentinus who was martyred on February 14th and later named a saint. According to what little history we have, he initially got in trouble for marrying young Roman soldiers who converted to Christianity to their sweethearts. Claudius was the Roman emperor at the time and he had prohibited young soldiers from getting married since he believed that unmarried soldiers were far more dedicated and better fighters. Valentinus was later executed when he attempted to convert the emperor himself and refused to recant his faith in Jesus.

Later February 14th became a feast day of  ‘commemoration’ of Saint Valentine recognized in the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church. Apparently it became associated with romantic love in the time of Chaucer in 14th century England. Other historians claim that the February 14th commemoration replaced pagan and Roman celebrations.

So ‘Saint’ Valentine’s Day used to be a feast day commemorating a martyr of the Christian faith. Somewhere along the way it became a day to remember the ones you love and your significant other in particular.

I can remember as a kid giving a big valentine every year to my mother. Then in grade school you were supposed to give a valentine to everyone in your class whether you liked them or not. As I recall, I used to save the ‘special’ ones for the girl or girls in the class that I had a crush on at the time. Then you would later check out the ones you received with hope and expectation that the ones you cared for also dropped a ‘special’ Valentine in your box.

Now it has become a huge commercial day for those in the card, flower, and candy business. So what happened to the ‘Saint’ in Valentine’s Day? No one really remembers the Christian priest who gave his life for his faith anymore so dropping the ‘saint’ designation actually reflects the reality of the situation. It is now a secular cultural holiday that emphasizes romantic love. Nothing at all to do with it’s Christian roots.

The “saint’ has been sacrificed once more –this time on the altar of secular commercial enterprise. After all, the culture of America and the West is increasingly secular and business promoters would like to sell cards and flowers to folks of all religions including atheists. So good-by Christian ‘saint’ and hello more business?            *Top 

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