As soon as stores take down the Christmas garland and inflatable reindeer, they put up paper hearts and tiny cupids with arrows. However, like most holidays, there’s more to Valentine’s Day than heart shaped-boxes and those pastel-colored candies with sweet sayings.
Saint Valentine, a Champion of Love
There are actually three historical men by the name of Valentine, and all of them were Christian martyrs. The most popular of the three (and the one who we remember on February 14) was a priest who lived in Rome during the third century. At this time, in the interest of making better soldiers, the Emperor Claudius II ruled that young men should not get married. After all, single soldiers could devote their entire lives to fighting at war, while married soldiers were distracted by a wife and family.
Valentine, recognizing both the beauty of Christian marriage and the injustice in the emperor’s decree, went against the emperor and continued to secretly marry young Christian couples. Unfortunately, when Valentine’s marriages were discovered, Claudius II had him killed. For Valentine, though, his death sentence was worth following God’s will and procuring holy, Christian marriages.
The Pagan Celebration of Lupercalia
You may have heard that before Valentine’s Day, pagans celebrated the festival of Lupercalia, which according to history.com “was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.” The festival included animal sacrifices that were supposed to help young women find a husband and be fertile. Thankfully, the church outlawed Lupercalia in the fifth century and replaced it with the Christian holiday of St. Valentine’s Day.
The Valentine’s Day Card
Did you know that after Christmas cards, Valentine’s Day cards, or “valentines,” are the most popular holiday card? Each year, about 150 million valentines are exchanged around the world. The origin of the valentine comes from St. Valentine himself right before his death. According to CBN, his last words were in a note that he signed, “from your Valentine.”
Celebrating Valentine’s Day as a Christian Today
Christians can celebrate Valentine’s Day as a day to honor the beauty of romantic love, especially within the covenant of Christian marriage. However, the day doesn’t have to be restricted to romantic love. You can use Valentine’s Day to celebrate the love of God, the love between parents and children, the love between friends, and love for our neighbors, the poor and sick.
Love, the Fruit of the Spirit
Valentine’s Day is a special day for Christians, because our entire faith is built upon love. One great way to celebrate love with your family this Valentine’s Day is by reading the devotion on love in our free devotional, Christian Movies that Teach the Fruit of the Spirit. Along with a link to watch a movie with the theme of “love,” you will also find thoughts on how the movie’s characters and plot can help you open your heart to the Holy Spirit and transform your life with his gifts. Download your free devotional here.