St. Valentine Cross
Like Christmas, Valentine's Day is another cause for greeting card companies to rub their hands with glee. According to the Greeting Card Association, Valentine gifts generated an estimated $13.7 billion in revenue in 2006 in the US and an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year. These cards invariably feature one or two hearts, and when these are combined with a cross, the hearts assume the meaning that the couples' love is based on their Christian faith.
Why February 14th?
The middle of February has been associated with love and fertility since ancient times. In Athens, the month was called Gamelion, which ran from the middle of January until the middle of February. This month was dedicated to the marriage of Zeus and Hera.
The Sabines were an ancient tribe in central Italy, who were conquered by the Romans in 290 BC. Februa is the Sabine word for 'purification', and the Romans adopted this word for their feast of purification held on the ides of the month. At about the same time was a holiday to honour the goddess Juno-the-Purifier. Juno was the Queen of the Roman gods and goddesses, and also the goddess of women and marriage.
Who was St. Valentine?
Was it coincidence that the nasty Emperor Claudius II (Claudius the Goth) arranged for a priest named Valentine to be beheaded on this day? The Emperor thought that by outlawing marriage, young men would not have wives or families to tend and therefore be better soldiers for his flagging armies. (See Deut. 24:5.) But priest Valentine defied the Emperor and married couples in secret.
Claudius oversaw the persecution of Christians and many were executed. Others, however, were saved by Valentine who arranged for their escape. Valentine himself became a martyr at the hands of Claudius on this special 'love' day in the year 269 AD.
...or so the legend goes. There are several authors who have variations of this story but other than quoting Deuteronomy, none seem able to cite reliable sources1. Still, it's a nice romantic anecdote to print on the back of a Valentine card.
Truth or fiction, In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as St. Valentine's Day. (In 1969, to reduce the number of Saint Days, the Catholic Church stopped printing St. Valentine's Day on its official calendar. This has had no effect at all on Hallmark card sales.)
Think twice before you buy her a diamond for Valentine's Day, and be very careful if you are thinking of giving red roses!
A Valentine's Day Poem - Lost Heart
I seem to have a problem
I think I've lost my heart.
I can't find it anywhere
It's like I'm searching through the dark.
I was beginning to panic,
wondering what to do.
Then I remembered:
I gave my heart to you.
- anon -
A Valentine's Day Short Story - The Dream
After waking up, she said to husband, "I just dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace for Valentine's day. What do you think it means?"
"You'll know this evening." he replied.
That evening, the man came home with a small package and gave it to his wife. Delighted, she opened it to find a book entitled...
'The meaning of dreams'!
(see also page on Dreams and Visions)
Other Romantic Crosses