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Beyond the Roses, Chocolates and Historical Ties

Beyond the Roses, Chocolates and Historical Ties

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Published by Kimberly Rocha

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Published by: Kimberly Rocha on Feb 08, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Beyond the roses, chocolates and historical ties to a pagan fertilityfestival, you'll find the real meaning of Valentine's Day. It's the truelove that compelled a young Christian to give up his life rather thanstop sharing his faith.
Valentine's Day
When we think of Valentine's Day, we often think of red roses,candy in heart- shaped boxes, mushy valentines, and wingedcherubs flying about shooting starry-eyed lovers with arrows. Butdid you know that the origin of Valentine's Day, or Saint Valentine'sDay, comes from the life and death of a Christian martyr? Accordingto author Martha Zimmerman, the date traditionally celebrated asSt. Valentine's Day finds it origin in the Roman festival of romancecalled Lupercalia, when the gods Juno and Pan were honored. It wasa fertility festival or a lover's holiday looking forward to the return of Spring. In the fifth century, in an attempt to abolish the paganfestival, Pope Gelasius changed Lupercalia and its February 15 dateto February 14 and called it Saint Valentine's Day. Even though thenames and the date were changed, the emphasis continued to beon love.Who was the real Valentine, and why did he have a day namedafter him?Some authorities credit Geoffrey Chaucer with originating thecustom of linking Valentine's Day with lovers. No link between theday and lovers exists before the time of Chaucer, thus leading someto conclude that it was this famous English author who connectedthe day with lovers. The fullest and earliest description of thetradition occurs in Chaucer's "Parliament of Fouls" composedaround 1380. Since that time it has been traditional to connect St.Valentine's Day with love.But who was the real Saint Valentine? St. Valentine was a RomanChristian who, according to tradition, was martyred during thepersecution of Christians in the third century by Emperor ClaudiusII. The only thing certain about the day we remember as St.Valentine's Day is that it commemorates a martyrdom. Claudius IIdeclared all Christians illegal citizens. By his definition, they wereguilty of treason because Roman citizens were required by law toworship the Emperor by declaring publicly, "Caesar is Lord!" Of course, this no Christian could do. The real Valentine was a Roman Christian martyred during the thirdcentury A.D. by the Emperor Claudius II. Prior to his death,
Valentine continued to minister in prison by witnessing to his prisonguards. One of the guards was a good man who had adopted a blindgirl. He asked Valentine if his God could help his daughter.Valentine prayed and the girl was given her sight. The guard and hiswhole family, 46 people, believed in Jesus and were baptized. Whenthe Emperor heard about this he was furious that Valentine was stillmaking converts even in prison, so he sentenced Valentine todeath. Just before being led out to his execution, the young Christian wrotea note to the jailer's daughter, signing it, "From your Valentine." Thefirst valentine was really a Christian witness. Growing out of thisstory we participate in a custom of sending cards to people we love.Given that the tradition of sending love notes grows out of a letterwritten by St. Valentine to his jailer's daughter on the eve of Valentine's execution, it's ironic that the card we send has receivedthe emphasis, instead of remembering the content of the originalValentine's card: a message of unconditional devotion to Christ,even upon pain of death.Over time the word "Saint" has been dropped from St. Valentine'sDay, further obscuring the origins of this holiday. Instead of anegative reaction to some of the pagan origins of the day, why notcelebrate the true love that compelled young Valentine to give uphis life?Remember that the day we know as St. Valentine's Day actuallycommemorates the death of an early Christian martyr, Valentine,who was put to death for refusing to renounce his faith in Christ.Instead of chubby cherubs, sappy cards, too much candy, and soon-wilted flowers, why not point your family toward the truesignificance of St. Valentine's Day this year?By all means, celebrate the day, but re-inject it with Christianmeaning by resolving to live for Jesus without fear or shame,following the godly example of Valentine's unconditional love forChrist.How can you celebrate St. Valentine's Day in a way that honors theoriginal Valentine, who was martyred for his devotion to God?First, give your life to Christ.
Second, declare the truth about God's love even if it costs yousomething. Third, become a servant to those you love, rather than demandingthat your needs be met. According to pastor Alex Stevenson, we allwant to hear the phrase, "Be my Valentine." It simply means "youare loved." This Valentine's Day, remember that you are loved. God loves youand wants you to be His valentine. The love that God gives us is notlike the world's love. The world's love is only as sturdy as a paperValentine's card. But God's love is not a flimsy, cheap imitation: it isthe real thing. It is an all-giving love that was and is willing to sufferand die for our deliverance.Will you be God's valentine? It is your choice. Say yes and give toGod the love He desires. And when you do, remember the firstValentine and how he gave everything, including his life, to the Godhe loved.
a.A sentimental or humorous greeting card sent to a sweetheart, friend, ofamily member, for example, on Saint Valentine's Day. b.A gift sent as a token of love to one's sweetheart on Saint Valentine's Day.2.A person singled out especially as one's sweetheart on Saint Valentine's Day.[After Saint
.]WORD HISTORY Lovers and the greeting card industry may have Geoffrey Chaucer tothank for the holiday that warms the coldest month. Although reference books aboundwith mentions of Roman festivals from which Valentine's Day may derive, Jack B. Oruchhas shown that no evidence supports these connections and that Chaucer was probablythe first to link the saint's day with the custom of choosing sweethearts. No such link has been found before the writings of Chaucer and several literary contemporaries who alsomention it, but after them the association becomes widespread. It seems likely thatChaucer, the most imaginative of the group, invented it. The fullest and perhaps earliestdescription of the Valentine's Day tradition occurs in Chaucer's
 Parlement of Foules,
composed around 1380, which takes place
"on Seynt Valentynes day,/Whan every foul cometh there to chese [choose] his make [mate]." 

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