I find human behavior fascinating. For example, I have a friend who, for 355 days of the year, is happily single. Oh, sure, she dates from time to time, but is very content living on her own, sans intimate other—except on one “special” day of the year. And, during this one special day of the year, my friend’s entire personality changes. She literally transforms facades: one minute she is a perfectly comfortable single gal boasting about her individuality, the next she becomes a depressed soul yearning for a partner to make her whole. What gives? Oh, I see. Valentine’s Day.
Ah, February 14th. Valentine’s Day. Who is this little chubby, little cherub responsible for this “Holiday of Love,” anyway? Well, the stories of St. Valentine differ. One legend claims that Valentine was a gentle priest who lived during the third century in Rome. At this time, Rome was ruled by a cruel Emperor named Claudius who outlawed marriage for young men, stating that single men made better soldiers. Valentine spoke up against this unjust decree and defied the Emperor. He even went so far as to marry young lovers in secret ceremonies. When Emperor Claudius discovered Valentine’s acts of betrayal, the priest was soon executed.
Another tale states that while Valentine was imprisoned for his beliefs, he fell in love with his jailor’s daughter who was very kind and visited him often. Before his death, Valentine wrote the young girl a love letter, which he signed, “From your Valentine.” This expression is still used today to sign Valentine’s Day cards.
Regardless of which legend you believe, St. Valentine was a hero of love, therefore, officially became the patron saint of lovers. And it seems as if card companies all over the world have capitalized on this fact for years. It simply amazes me how a noble man’s once respectable name has been reduced to thoughts of cheap chocolate and overpriced red roses.