As we came into the revival of Hebrew understanding in the Messiah, we noticed some things about our culture and it's celebrations.
Many seemed to be tied to pagan celebrations as well as Christian ones. Now, I do not intend to get in a "chicken and egg" debate here, but I want to give credit where credit is due. Here are four simple facts about the idea of Valentines. You can read them and smile, or weep.
- There was a real guy named Valentine. He was executed by the Romans in 269 AD. What did he do that was so bad? He supported marriage. At that time, the government was not allowing the institution. They wanted their men to be fighters. Well, the problem was, they were fighters AND lovers. In order to help some men and women keep the sacred covenant of marriage, Valentine became the real deal. He performed marriages in secret, but was eventually caught. While in prison, awaiting his demise, he wrote letters. One was to a young woman who was reportedly healed after he prayed. He signed the letters, "your Valentine." So that is how that phrase supposedly started.
- The timing of the current Valentine's day coincides with a pagan Roman holiday known as Lupercalia. The dates - February 13-15. In this festival men would sacrifice a goat and a dog. Then they would take the bloody skins and slap young women with them. There was a "pairing off" ritual as well. This was a fertility and mating ritual for the ancient Romans. The 5th century Pope Gelasius blended the celebration of the Saint known as Valentine with this day of drunkenness. It was said that the party continued, but some clothes were put on it.
- Esther Howland (Worcester, Massachusetts) published the first American valentine card in 1849.
- Hallmark (Hall Bros. Printing) first offered Valentine’s Day cards in 1913 and began producing them in 1916.
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