By Pastor David Bowen,
The real meaning of the “sweethearts” holiday
Standing Stones Community Church
The date many people circle on the month of February is the
fourteenth, Valentine’s Day. Some circle it so that they can completely avoid
it, but others look forward to this special day. What makes this day special?
Valentine’s Day has its origins in the Roman holiday Lupercalia, which was a
fertility festival dedicated to celebrating the Roman god of agriculture, but
it gets its name from a third-century Christian martyr.
Emperor Claudius II ruled in Rome during the third century.
The Roman Empire was known for its military power and had strict rules for its
soldiers. Claudius believed that single men made better soldiers than those
with wives and families, so he outlawed marriage. However, a catholic priest
named Valentine defiled the emperor’s decree and secretly performed wedding
ceremonies for young couples. In 270 A.D., when the emperor discovered
Valentine’s betrayal, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine’s Day
is celebrated in February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death.
Over the centuries, Valentine’s Day has transitioned from a
pagan festival to a day of love and romance. However, as with many things in
our culture, this day has become commercialized. In fact, after Christmas,
Valentine’s Day is the second most popular card-sending holiday, with over 150
million cards being exchanged. Money magazine reports that last Valentine’s
Day, people spent over $19 billion on their valentine. Flowers, candy and
dinner out may make a great date night, but what about families? How should a
family celebrate Valentine’s Day? As a pastor, over the years I have seen some
pretty creative and fun ideas.
One family likes to start the day with a kid-friendly
scavenger hunt, making each item an object that highlights compassion, giving
and kindness. I know one dad who has a Valentine’s Day tea party with his
daughters. I’ve seen creative meals with heart-shaped hamburgers and dessert
made with heart-shaped strawberries. One year I saw a mom create homemade
Valentine cards for her kids using Bible verses to explain how much God loved
Holidays allow us to focus on a certain aspect of life.
Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful. Christmas is a season to be giving. July
fourth is a day to appreciate our independence and freedom, and Veteran’s Day
is a day to remember and honor those who allow us to enjoy such blessings.
Valentine’s Day is one of those occasions that can go either way. It can be a
day of tenderness and caring or it can be a day of lust. It’s important that we
model the proper attitude and express love in a way that is honoring and not
selfish. To love someone literally means to put that person first. Love means
to give, lust wants to get. Love is caring, lust is egocentric. Love produces
stability, lust creates chaos.
Let’s remember the one whose namesake is this month, a
priest named Valentine who wanted to stand against arrogance and help young
couples begin their lives together. A priest who was willing to give his own
life so that others could express their love and publicly pledge vows of
faithfulness and commitment. If that is the real root of Valentine’s Day then
it will do our communities and our culture good to model that behavior. Happy
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