While Valentine’s Day may seem like just another “Hallmark Holiday” (has anyone outside of the Midwest ever heard of “Sweetest Day?!”), the day does have religious and historical significance. Here are some interesting tidbits:
- There is no one St. Valentine. In fact, there were both a priest and a bishop named Valentine, and both men lived during the reign of Claudius II.
- Due to an inability to accurately record the history of THE St. Valentine and the actions ascribed to him, the Catholic Church removed St. Valentine’s Day from the General Roman Calendar of Feast Days (Valentine is still considered a Saint, however, and his feast day is still recognized as February 14th).
- The Anglican, Lutheran, and Easter Orthodox Churches also recognize St. Valentine.
- Celebrating “love” on February 14th predates the Feast of St. Valentine. As with many Christian holidays, the exact date for St. Valentine’s feast had already been used to celebrate amorous love.
- The pagan holiday of Lupercalia was a celebration of fertility. Men would rip skins off of sacrificed animals and whip any available women with them (I think I prefer chocolates myself). There is also historical evidence of a lottery whereby men would pick women’s names from a bowl, and the couple would be paired together for the duration of the festival.
- Songbirds would start reappearing in mid-February, which is also a popular time for bird mating.
As with any commercial holiday, it’s always fun to use Valentine’s Day as a teachable moment for kids to help them understand the many facets of love and sharing that love with all humanity. Here are some of my favorite stories told about St. Valentine:
- After the government discouraged marriages in an effort to ensure the singular focus of its military soldiers, St. Valentine secretly married couples under the Christian rite.
- While in prison, St. Valentine healed his jailor’s blind daughter and left her a note on the day of his execution, signing it “from your Valentine.”
- After being arrested, St. Valentine continued to minister as he could and in so doing, sent a note to a local blind boy who was seeking to be healed. Valentine enclosed a small treat with the note, and when the boy ate the treat, he was miraculously healed.
- St. Valentine, in choosing to continue ministering and in refusing to denounce God, is a reminder of this Bible verse: “No one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” (John 15:13).
Whether you choose to use one of these stories or a more general sentiment of “sharing God’s love,” it is possible and very rewarding to bring the religious significance of St. Valentine to the commercial holiday. We find that this helps us explain any questions that seem to come up around how schools and the greater society choose to commemorate the “day of love:”
- Why do I have to give Valentines to everyone?
- Because God’s love isn’t just for our family, friends, people who look like us, talk like us, practice faith like us, etc. God’s love is for everyone.
- Valentine shared the love of God with everyone he could find, even when it was inconvenient, unpopular, and dangerous.
- Why do Valentines say “love?”
- There are many different types of love. The love we have for all of God’s creation is a holy love, an agape love.
- You can read countless Bible verses on the subject, but here are my favorites for kids:
- “Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God, and everyone that loves is begotten by God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7
- “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39
- Why are red and pink the colors of Valentine’s Day?
- Red is often associated with the blood of Christ spilled in his love for us, and St. Valentine’s blood was also shed in pursuit of sharing God’s love with the community of the time.
- Pink is a combination of red and white. White is a sign of purity, and when combined with red (love, blood, etc) represents the pure love that Christ has for his church and the type of agape love that we should strive to have for all people, regardless of our differences.
We can choose how we frame things in order to help our little ones know and appreciate the many facets of faith. Valentine’s Day is no exception, and it can be a great opportunity to reframe the world’s commercialization of love in a Godly and faith-filled way.
If you’re looking for some fun ways to “spread the love,” check these posts out:
Printable Valentines (with Dollar Store “goodies”)