Hearts, flowers and chocolates abound on this particular day. Glittering ads invite your one true love to bestow that expensive hunk of pressurized coal upon your finger to consecrate your undying devotion. Really?
I am not opposed to love, marriage, relationships, or gifts.
I am, however, opposed to the hijacking of an obscured historical figure for the merchandising edification of the corporations.
According to Wikipedia, Saint Valentine is documented as follows in history:
The Saint Valentine that appears in various martyrologies in connection with Feb 14 is described either as:
- A priest in Rome,
- A bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), or
- A martyr in the Roman province of Africa.
The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493); alongside the woodcut portrait of Valentine, the text states that he was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II, known as Claudius Gothicus. He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner – until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor – whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that failed to kill him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. Various dates are given for the martyrdom or martyrdoms: 269, 270, or 273. The official Roman Martyrologyfor February 14 mentions only one Saint Valentine.
Ouch! I’m a principled gal, but beheading is a steep penalty for love. The Romans were not particularly a celibate bunch. In fact, much of their culture depended on the Venus Genetrix. Despite their poly-theistic society, having someone running around proclaiming One God/One Love proved to be too much for emperor Claudius II, who had a particular thing for tormenting the hapless Christian with lions and gladiators. Once he met Valentine, he actually liked the man. Claudius grew a tad irate with Valentine when he became the focus of such doctrine, ending with the above mentioned penalty.
Back to my point. Saint Valentine was about marrying and aiding of Christians. Somehow I believe that if this individual were to see the bastardization of his principles, he’d be appalled.
Sure, if you are married you’ve got the relationship. Kids see it all about popularity – how many valentines did you get? Singles – for some, it’s about the hook-up.
Why create drama?
Billions of dollars are spent on this artificial construct of a holiday. An even greater emotional toll is exacted when Romance is expected and not received.
True romance is when you have open communication between partners. Building a future together that will span generations, not a one-night stand.