Valentine’s Sweet Valentine’s – The History and the Mystery
Valentine’s Day, ah, the quest for love and romance! Actually, I did a little research and learned a few things about this little holiday. As I sit here in the car on my way to a fancy cruise ship to spend Valentine’s over the Caribbean, I’ve been stewing over what to say in a Valentine’s post. I can write pages on how awesome my spouse is or how to keep the romance alive, however what keeps pressing on my mind is what this holiday actually means, and why we focus in on only one day for this.
There is a lot of mystery shrouded around this holiday, and like so many others, we have created something else – something we not only buy into, but a holiday surrounded by consumerism. Side note – if you want to really play it smart, try celebrating Valentine’s a day (or even a week) after – less crowds, and holiday prices slashed in half!
The History of Valentine’s Day
I’ve read many stories around St. Valentine, and to make matters more confusing, there were actually multiple St. Valentines (there are at least three mentioned in the Roman Catholic Church)! The overarching story, however, surrounds risk for the sake of love. One man secretly married couples when an Emperor outlawed marriage so he could send more single men to war. Another attempted to release tortured Christian prisoners under Roman rule (while sending love notes to the jailer’s daughter, signed “from your Valentine”. The third theory had less to do with Eros (passionate) love and more to do with Agape (Christian love) – a man who refused to renounce his faith. The ambiguity behind St. Valentine and who the holiday was specifically named for intrigues me.
According to another source, St. Valentine has been incorrectly associated with finding love. He is more accurately the patron saint for those who have already found their soulmate. St. Raphael is the patron saint for “happy encounters”…but I guess “Raphael’s Day” didn’t have the same ring to it.
This holiday is a light touch on young romance. I question whether it truly focuses on the soulmate. Read on.
Oh, the Church
If you dig deep into most any holiday you will discover the influence of religion, specifically the Roman Catholic Church. The significance of Valentine’s Day being on February 14th has to do more with a holiday of fertility that was already set in place to honor the Roman god of agriculture, Faunus, as well as the Roman founders, Romulus and Remus. Lupercalia was celebrated on February 15th, and, according to the History Channel:
To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
Here are some stats on Valentine’s, according to the fabulous Fundivo Statistics:
- Only 1 in 2 Americans will actually celebrate Valentine’s Day
- 4.5 Billion dollars was spent on Jewelry in 2016
- 4.4 Billion dollars on going out to eat
- 1.76 Billion spent on candy (just so we can keep up the sugar high, other statistics were 2.4 billion on Easter candy and 2.1 billion on Halloween candy just in 2016)
- The “average person” spends $147 on Valentine’s Day
- 25-34 year olds spend the most on Valentine’s
Provided by: Fundivo
Nineteen point seven billion dollars. On one day. Here we have a holiday that is ambiguous in it’s start, was set up by the church more to cancel out a pagan fertility love fest, and is a day utterly overloaded with consumerism (don’t get me started on Christmas!)
And yes, I recognize the irony of me spending my Valentine’s on a cruise ship, but hey, I didn’t pick the date, just the cruise. 😉
Why all the young people?
Whew. I’m at the age where I can say “young people” are the 25-34 year olds. Although I’m only one year into the next age bracket, let’s just take a minute to process why Valentine’s is the biggest deal for this age group. I know in my teens V-Day was a big deal as well – I remember one young couple who each exceeded $400 one-upping the other on who was more “romantic.” In high school and college, Valentine’s can be what you love or hate, depending on if you have a significant other at the time.
But that 25-34 age bracket is when many are getting serious about settling down. Valentine’s has become this gauntlet of approval to forge through to prove you are romantic enough to become a spouse. It’s all about that mating dance of impressing a potential suitor. Maybe our Valentine’s is just our animal ritualistic way of performing a mating dance. It’s all about laying on the romantic charm.
If that’s the case, why do we not continue this “romance” after we are married?
I have a theory that has nothing to do with us being less romantic, and everything to do with us understanding something deeper than buying roses on a holiday.
Remember the Romance, not the Valentine
I love romance. I love doing things to make Nathan feel my love, and being sappy and sweet. I can argue that Valentine’s Day is just the push as a reminder for people to acknowledge the one they love. Yet I feel that the reason the 35+ age group doesn’t go as ga-ga with the consumerism and hype of Valentine’s has more to do with us either being done with love, or deeper in love. You may have been burned by romance, frustrated by your singleness, or disappointed in the relationship you have. For those of you on this side, I love coaching women, especially, on understanding their beautiful strengths and how to find and connect with a mate.
For the other side – the side that has found a deeper love, this is how I see my forever “valentine’s day”:
One day isn’t enough to shout my love for you from the rooftops. No $60 bouquet will make me feel your love as much as you coming up behind me, wrapping your arms around me, and kissing my neck. Our love is shown by the look in your eyes, the connection in our touch, and the hours spent simply talking and dreaming together. It’s the play and the laughter and the sweet love notes and texts. You show me love by your devotion, your desire, and your drive to make our relationship go further and deeper every passing year. You create beautiful masterpiece dinners and step up to wrangle kids when I’m fried. You give me regular massages and ease out the tension in my shoulders from kids that seem to weigh an extra 100 pounds when I carry them.
You remind me to simply be and to honor, love and respect the incredible person I am (and you’ve helped me to discover that). You push me to be independent yet are always there for me whenever I need you. We have grown so much since we first met, and I’m so thankful that we’ve done it together. You are my soulmate not simply on February 14th, but intentionally in my heart every single day. I choose to love you through every season, and am happy to be by your side as we explore this life together. I commit to make my love go deeper than a valentine’s card (or post) and take action every day to show you my love.
Yours always and forever, Ashley
Deep Love – Every Single Day
Deep love is not a tangible manifestation of roses, cards, and Valentine’s Day candy. It doesn’t always require a fancy outfit and gourmet meal. Sometimes deep love is leaping out of bed to handle the kids and make coffee when I’ve been up all night. Other times, it’s cuddling up against me and allowing me to stick my icy cold toes on your leg to get warm. The love beyond Valentine’s day embraces the good and the bad, loves me despite it all, and doesn’t demand perfection. It’s the challenge and commitment to show up and do your best every day, while also embracing who you are and the reality that we are imperfect.
Go ahead and celebrate this Valentine’s – but pick a day that works for you and honor your loved ones with a note that lays out that deeper love. Pick wildflowers in a field and spend the day noticing all the little things that make you adore each other. Leave your ego at the door and show love because you mean it – not to prove you are the most romantic on a holiday.
Create your own St. Valentine. Push yourself to sainthood by making the effort to show the ones you love, each and every day, how much they mean to you. Look for the little things – the words of affirmation, the touch of affection, and the listening ear of acceptance. Spread the romance throughout the year. Let your Valentine’s Day become a recap of love that has been celebrated year-round.
Let me know your Valentine’s plans below – do you have any romantic traditions or cheap ways you celebrate?