Talking About Valentine's Day: The History
Though now it has largely been removed from religion, previously the holiday was a Christian holiday, as mentioned above. But that's not how it was originally. It began as a pagan holiday celebrated by the Romans and dedicated to fertility and life. When it was eventually co-opted by Christianity it was changed completely.
Let's go back to the mystery of St. Valentine. We've covered that there's more than one and we aren't sure which one the big day is named after. But ultimately that's okay because the Catholic church wiped the St. Valentine's Day feast from the Roman calendar, further distancing the day from any religious connotation.
The Christian basis of the holiday is the celebration of a martyred saint. But here's the thing: we don't know which saint. There are a few different saints named Valentine that could potentially fit the bill. There aren't enough historical records to make the determination of who is who.
Some facts about Valentine's Day:
- Most women don't want to be married on Feb. 14th, but there are still those who insist that Valentine's Day specifically and February in general are the most popular times to get married in the United States. But neither are true, and in fact the month of June is the most popular month to tie the knot.
- Valentine's Day is the second most popular day for sending cards. Christmas is the first most popular.
- About 1 billion Valentine's Day cards are exchanged each year.
- Approximately 27 percent of those who buy flowers on Valentine's Day are women. 73% are men. Valentine's Day ranks #1 for fresh flower purchases.
- Richard Cadbury invented the first Valentine's Day candy box in the late 1800s
- In 1537, England's King Henry VII officially declared Feb. 14 the holiday of St. Valentine's Day.
- The vast number of roses sold on Valentine's Day in the U.S. are imported, and 60 percent of American roses are produced in California. Approximately 110 million roses, the majority red, will be sold and delivered within a three day period., Feb 13-15.
Finally, my sense if that love for another person is best expressed through loving kindness and appreciation. Romantic love, the focus of commercial Valentine's Day, is secondary.
Ways of expressing love as explained by Dr. Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages. (He has published many books on this topic in the past 15 years.)
He identifies five primary ways we express love. He then establishes how much our relationships can benefit when we're able to understand and speak all these languages fluently. "It's a very simple idea," says Chapman. "But when you apply it, it really does change the climate between two people."
The idea came to the author after spending 15 years listening to
voice different versions of the same complaint.
"One partner would say, 'I feel like my spouse doesn't love me,'" Chapman remembers.
Eventually he realized what they were really expressing was a frustrated desire. "So I asked myself a question: When someone says 'my spouse doesn't love me,' what does he or she want?"
Chapman theorized that each of these unhappy people had a dominant mode for experiencing love and wanted to experience it in that particular way. He also realized that those modes of emotional expression fell into five categories:
1. Words of Affirmation
(To be verbally acknowledged)
2. Quality Time
(To enjoy companionship)
3. Receiving Gifts
(To be given tokens of love)
4. Acts of Service
(To have their partners do tasks for them)
5. Physical Touch
(To be in contact via the body)
Those are simple behaviors, not fancy cards or chocolates. Try them.
Finally, here's a simple, no-cost way to
remind a person of the true meaning of Valentine's Day. Write one of these quotations, or your own words, on a piece of paper and hand it to a cherished friend or relative:
"The deepest principle of human nature
is the craving to be appreciated." --William James
"That best portion of a good man's life, his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love." --William Wordsworth
"Simple, genuine goodness is the best capital to found the business of this life upon. It lasts when fame and money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of this life with us." --Louisa May Alcott
"In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart." Anne Frank "
"Goodness is easier to recognize than define" W.H. Auden (then add, "I recognize it in you."
We depend upon one another, and it's best to choose a loving inter-dependence. As Poet John Donne wrote
No man is an island,
entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
as well as if a promontory were.
as well as if a manor of thy friend's
or of thine own were.
Any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.
Until Next time,