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Monday, February 12, 2007

St. Valentine

is a Christian martyr. St. Valentine's day is not a holiday commemorating generalized feelings of love. It is a feast day in honor of that saint. The only romantic love associated with this Saint is marital love, since he was imprisoned for continuing to marry Christian couples after Claudius II banned marriage in an effort to gain more soldiers for his war. The tradition of sending valentines has to do with the notes of encouragement this holy priest received while in prison. There is also a legend of his befriending a jailer whose daughter was blind, and his sending a note to her signed "From your Valentine." Some legends say that he healed the daughter and that his friendship and prayers were what brought on their conversion. We don't know that for sure, though.

In any case, the only notes sent were notes of Christian encouragement, and the only romantic love celebrated was that of marriage. So, you can see why it annoyed me that even in a Christian school, they had the kids sending lovey dovey valentines to each other. It is inappropriate anyway, I think, to encourage little kids to send love notes to each other, but on top of that, it is simply following the pagan pattern of our culture. I was greatly encouraged to find out that this year, they are not doing that, but are sending notes of encouragement to wounded soldiers in Germany instead. This is more in the spirit of honoring this day.

Married people, however, celebrating their love and romance is entirely within the parameters of this feast, and so I encourage all married people to celebrate and remember that this holiday came about as a result of an honorable priest who married men and women, even against the law of the emperor, and eventually lost his life because of it.

Other people can celebrate Sts. Cyril and Methodius who were brothers, a bishop and a monk, and missionaries to the Slavs. Their feast day is also February 14, and they are a story of encouragement to all parents of siblings who don't get along. They had a rancorous childhood relationship, but grew in faith and maturity, enough to work together as missionaries, with one as bishop over the other.

Updated: It turns out that the kids are exchanging valentines in class. We found out today. And about the party for which they need parent volunteers and food and drink. The day after tomorrow. The kids and I decided to make hearts on the candy hearts website I posted on Wednesday, with the words "Feast of Saint Valentine" and "February 14" on each, and make a card outlining the story of St. Valentine. Dominic's idea was to put part of the story on each card and number the back so the kids had to work together to get the whole story, a game of sorts. We liked this idea. I figure one of two things will result: The kids, teachers and possibly parents will learn something about the real St. Valentine and the meaning behind the celebration, or the super anti-Catholic parents will be so upset about the so-called Catholic idolatry of it that they will call for a ban of its celebration at the school. Either of these options are fine with us.

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You've put a lot more thought into than I have... thanks for the food for thought!
I am going to share the history of Valentine's Day with my kids. Thanks so much for reminding us that there is more to the story than what Hallmark wants us to believe.
My youngest is the only one in public school. We went to the christian bookstore and bought him some veggie tales valentines. They say things like "God loves you". They are in envelopes so I hope they slip by. I will share the meaning of valentines day with my children as well. - Briana
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