I've heard the legends. I've laughed at the angry rhetoric hurled at Hallmark. I've observed the anxiety of young couples. I've witnessed the sweet simple affection shown by devoted, experienced couples. I've watched singles enter a spiral of despair, depression, self-pity and "righteous anger" at a day that doesn't fit them.
People, we have holidays to celebrate mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, presidents, veterans, and administrative assistants. I don't see people freaking out when they don't fit into one of those groups. But I do sympathize. It's hard feeling alone when it seems that everyone else has someone special to love. (And I do know-- try living four years totally single at Bible college.)
But Valentine's Day was not originally a celebration of love and romance. Does anyone even know what St. Valentine did?
(And if you said he performed marriages against the emperor's will, you're only possibly half right.)
Firstly, no one is exactly sure which Valentine the day is named for. There were three of them who were martyred before the Pope announced February 14 as "St. Valentine's Day." Just like Christmas, Valentine's Day was originally a replacement of a pagan celebration-- the Feast of Lupercalia, which was a day when boys and girls were, for once in the year, allowed to spend time together. (But that's another story-- follow the link and read up on it if you want.) In any event, even the Pope seemed unsure of what exactly the Saints Valentine had done to deserve their own day. He simply wrote that it was to be a day to celebrate those "... whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God." However, there was a rather legendary account about what the death of one of the Valentines. The medieval book Legenda Aurea recounts Valentine's story something like this.
It wasn't until much later that the legend about the secret marriage ceremonies arose.
Faith. Courage in the face of death. Love. Concern for others' eternal destinies. Forgiveness. Sacrifice.
That was the legacy of the first Valentine. Will it be ours?
Today, instead of being miserable because I'm single, I will celebrate Valentine's Day by sharing my faith with my governors. (I'd encourage you to do so as well. It's fairly simple to find e-mail addresses for our president, vice president, representatives, etc.) I will celebrate by sacrificing my time and energy to show the love of God to the people around me. I will forgive those I'm angry with. I will show love.
And if, after all that, you still find yourself wanting nothing to do with Valentine's Day, celebrate the Chinese New Year instead. It begins today-- The Year of the Yang Metal White Tiger.