John T. Willis

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day

Every year, the United States and several other countries celebrate Valentine's Day on 14 February. This day celebrates love and affection between intimate companions. Originally this was called Saint Valentine's Day, which is named after a martyr named Saint Valentine or Rome, who was martyred about 269 A. D., and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 500 A.D. Saint Valentine was a priest in Rome. After he was martyred, he was buried onthe Via Flaminia. His relics are at the Chruch of Saint Praxis in Rome, and at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland. Pope Paul VI deleted this celebration in 1969, but its religious observance is still permitted. Lovers ordinarily show their love to their companions by presenting flowers, offering confectionary, and sending greeting Valentine cards.

In recent times, the symbols for Valentine Day include heart-shaped outline, doves, and figure of a winged Cupid. The first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love is in Parlement of Foules (1382 A. D.) by Geoffrey Chaucer. This included a poem honoring the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. They married at age 15. Ophelia mentions Valentine's Day ruefully in William Shakespeare's Hamlet (1600 A. D.). John Donne used the legend of the marriage of the birds as the starting point for his Eipthalamion celebrating the marriage of Elizabeth, daughter of James I of England, and Frederick V, Elector Palatine. The verse "Roses are Red" echoes conventions which can be traced as far back as Edmund Spenser's epic "The Faerie Queene" in 1590 A. D.

Leigh Eric Schmidt reinvented Saint Valentine's Day in 1849 A. D. Esther Howland first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace in 1847 A. D. in the United States. The United States Greeting Card Association and other agencies estimate that people send valentines to family members, lovers, children, and friends approximately one billion in number. There are valentines of all kinds. One is an anthropomorphic valentine written about 1950-1960 A. D., saying: "I am PLUM crazy about you--Valentine."

Different countries give slightly different names. Here are a few examples: France and Spain: "Saint or San Valentin"; Portugal: "Lover's Day"; the United Kingdom: "Saint George's Day"; Sweden: "All Hearts' Day"; Finland: "Friend's Day;"Turkey: "Sweethearts' Day." In China, Korea, Japan, and Singapore, it is very popular to give chocolates of all types for lovers and friends. On the other hand,some Islamic countries strongly oppose and ban the tradition of Valentine Day, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iran.

I hope YOU enjoy Valentine's Day. God's love is all around us, and he wants us to share his love with others.

Share YOUR insights and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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