For the happily married, engaged, dating, or even the deluded, Valentine’s Day is a much anticipated and welcomed day every February. Many weddings are performed, especially at the Courthouse on this “Romantic Day” of the year. The happiness of being “in love” and/or “loved” should be contagious, but unfortunately, there are many who do not have ‘a significant other’ and this one day of the year is when most ‘singles’ really do feel single to the point of feeling lonely. Caught up in the giddiness of this delightful day full of anticipated and perhaps expected or even demanded surprises, many choose to ignore or remain ignorant of the uncomfortable feeling of others. Additionally, there are some people out there who go out of their way to rub it in the faces of those who received no flowery gifts, or who did not go out to delightful two hour lunches, and did not receive professions of love in all imaginable ways.
Valentine’s Day did not necessarily start off as a day for lovers, but instead has it’s beginnings in the church. A brief summary of the history behind this day is as follows. An honorable man named Valentine was persecuted because he was a Christian. Roman Emperor Claudius II did not think that married soldiers were good soldier material, and so he forbade soldiers to get married. Valentine performed secret Christian weddings for some of those who were forbidden to get married. Roman Emperor Claudius II tried to get Valentine to convert to Roman Paganism, and promised him he would spare his life if he did so. However, Valentine, in turn, tried to convert the Emperor Claudius II instead, and for his efforts, he was ordered executed. Prior to being executed, Valentine healed the Asterius’ daughter who was blind. Asterius was Valentine’s jailer. Asterius, his daughter and his entire household of forty four members (which included his family members and servants) were converted to Christianity and baptized by Valentine. According to legend, in order to “remind them of God’s love and to encourage them to remain faithful Christians,” Valentine, who was cannonized as a Saint when he died, is said to have cut heart shapes from parchment, and gave them to soldiers and persecuted Christians. Saint Valentine gave them these parchment hearts to remind them of God’s love and to encourage them to be good Christians. One important fact to note in this short synopsis of the history of Valentine’s Day is that parchment hearts were given to many, and not just to one special lover or spouse or suchlike.
Over the years, perhaps through the magnitude of the love that Valentine displayed, Valentines Day has been narrowed into celebration by couples. Couples celebrating their love is lovely, but it would be even more wonderful if the celebrations were opened up to include family and friends, and even strangers who do not have people to “share the love” with. Small acts of goodwill such as crossing the street to knock on the ‘grumpy neighbor’s door’ to wish them a Happy Valentines Day would take such little effort and yet could accomplish so much. Of course we should celebrate Valentines Day with our loved ones, but we could also make some time and effort to include others in our gifts of love to each other. These gifts of love can be anything from a heartfelt wish to an actual gift; a handmade card or a purchased card; a daisy picked from the garden to an actual bouquet; the possibilities are endless.
Valentines Day is all about love, and that is what we should make it – a gift of love for everyone. Besides, who would be more surprised and happier on Valentines Day: the lady who has received two dozen red roses sent every year for the past twenty years of her marriage, knowing full well that her husband’s secretary is the one who ensures that they are delivered to her office early enough for all to ‘ooh and aah’ over them; or the man who just got divorced and wears his misery like a suit of clothes every day who received one red carnation from someone with a simple “Happy Valentines Day because we care” message? Let us celebrate this day of love by including as many as we can in our efforts, for the simple reason that life is all about love.
Yvonne Michele Harris