Holidays have become so commercialized, that many of us don’t understand the depth of their meaning. Holidays are to remember our history and reflect on our heritage. Valentine’s Day is historically significant and always relevant:)
Although not much of St. Valentine’s life is reliably known, St. Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome.
At that time, it was illegal for Roman soldiers to marry until their 25 years of mandatory service was completed. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied the emperor Claudius and performed marriages in secret. He also attempted to help Christians who were imprisoned, where they were often beaten and tortured. He followed his convictions at great risk.
When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered Valentine to be beaten and beheaded unless he renounced his faith. Valentine refused and was executed on Feb 14, 269 A.D.
The First Valentine
In prison, Valentine befriended a prison guard. One version of the story tells that Valentine healed the jailer’s daughter and left her a note on the day of his execution, signed “from your Valentine”. Another version of the story claims that he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and again, on the day of his death, left her a love note signed “from your Valentine”
In time, the celebration of Valentine’s Day became a celebration of love. It is celebrated around the world, in countries such as; France, England, Denmark, Italy, South Korea, China and the Philippines.
For Us Today
As we remember and reflect on our history, Saint Valentine is an example for us today. Four principles of liberty that were exemplified by his actions are;
1) Marriage is a God-given right and beneficial to the society as a whole. It is a legally binding agreement or covenant that should have minimal intrusion from the government.
2) Love never fails. The spirit of love trumps that of man-made agendas and/or unjust law.
3) An individual’s conscience is accountable to a higher authority than that of the Roman Empire or any government.
4) While staying true to one’s conscience and convictions may be costly, the fruit of that sacrifice reaps rewards.
*Which of these principles apply to you today?
“Love always protects, always trusts,
always hopes and always perseveres.
Love never fails.”
1 Corinthians 13:7-8a
Interestingly, the Greek name for Christ was written as an X. This is why the abbreviation for Christmas is sometimes X-mas. In medieval times, the X was called Christ’s cross or crisscross. The crisscross was a form of oath as crossing one’s heart was derived from it. Just as people would place their hand on the Bible and say “So help me God” and kiss it, so people would sign a document next to Christ’s cross X, then kissed it as a promise that they would keep it. A practice that has come down to us as we sign at the X.
This is the origin of the sign XOXO on a Valentine’s card with XO to express a pledge to be faithful and sealed with a kiss of sincerity.
I love history and am continually fascinated by the things in my daily life that have deep historical significance. This in particular is a sweet memory for me as my grandmother signed every card with a long line of XOXOXO.