Friday, February 13, 2015

A LITTLE FUN: VALENTINE'S DAY AND THE BLOOD OF AN ANCIENT MARTYR


Valentine's Day, Valentine
Valentine's Day Gift Suggestion
Dear Reader, Valentine's Day is serious stuff in many ways, but let's relent a bit and have a laugh or two with it.

Did you know this, that the term "Valentine" is a proper name of a man of old? Here's the story: the original Valentine was a Bishop of Rome in the third century. He died as a Martyr about 269 C.E.

Old Bishop Valentine's death is commemorated on Feb. 14 as a feast day in some Roman Catholic churches, and among Anglicans and Lutherans as well. Not many of the billions that celebrate the day know why it's on the calendar on Feb. 14. (Eastern churches remember the day too, but on a different date.) It's a religious reason.

(Caveat: I took my information from Wikipedia. I tried unsuccessfully to confirm the feast day in the liturgical calendar of the Book of Common Prayer (The Episcopal Church) and in a couple of American Lutheran liturgical calendars.)

But, back to the main thread,
  • before martyrdom Bishop Valentine wrote a letter and signed it, "Your Valentine." The custom of a letter or card containing words like, "Be my Valentine" or "from your Valentine" apparently stems from the closing of his letter.

  • the color red, so typical of roses given on Valentine's Day, is derived from the blood of a martyred bishop. Ugh. By cultural transformation blood red is now linked with ardent romantic love. In the years of chivalry the historical meaning shifted to a celebration of romantic love. Maybe you'll want to consider roses of a different shade. I gave yellow. No! make that "white".
There's a great loss liturgically, which I regret, in this history. Few remember St. Valentine on Feb. 14. But there are great, mostly economic, gains:


  • Hundreds of million cards purchased and exchanged, delighting artists, designers, printers and card shop owners. 
  • An ease-off day for grade school kids and teachers.
  • Florists and flower growers raking in dollars for supplying  the demand for fresh and potted flowers.
  • Candy manufacturers and restaurants filling their tills.

(Little wonder the unemployment rate has gone down in the U.S. in preceding months. It wasn't the Fed after all. It was seasonal hiring in the liturgical service industry.)

Another gain: billions of folks all over the world expressing their romantic love with these candies, cards, etc., in the style of lords and ladies in the age of chivalry.

So, for you, is it (a) or (b):

(a) a Christian feast day or 
(b) a romantic celebration of romantic love? 

But even if you choose (a), the liturgically correct option, I highly recommend that you (b) relent and give a card at a minimum t to your valentine. Otherwise, you could create a high risk domestically. 

And, whether (a), (b), or (a) + (b) consider contributing to Wikipedia, the not-for-profit free encyclopedia, from which I mined much of this material. 

Happy Valentine's Day! S/Your Valentine 

 

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