Today’s blog post is by guest writer, Justin Osborne.
Justin explores the origins of Valentine’s Day and the foundation of the traditions we see today. Should single Christians celebrate this occasion or avoid it, as it started as a pagan festival?
Where did Valentines Come From?
We may celebrate Valentine’s Day as a day of romance on 14th February, but its origins are actually quite murky, as there are many diverging accounts, and separating fact from fiction is difficult.
Those involved in Christian dating may wonder whether they should celebrate this festival or not. They may see it as a romantic day where they can express their love but they may have doubts due to its possible roots in the Roman festival of Lupercalia and its modern-day commercialism.
A Christian martyr named Valentine
There were several Christian martyrs named Valentine but the name of the day may have come from a Valentine who served under Emperor Claudius 11 Gothicus in third-century Rome. The Emperor banned soldiers from getting married based on the belief that single men made better soldiers, but evidently, Valentine continued to marry young soldiers who were in love.
Valentine was jailed for performing these wedding ceremonies and supposedly, the couples he married brought him notes and flowers while he was in jail. There are also stories that he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter while he was in jail and before his execution, he wrote her a love letter signing it “Your Valentine.”
Another story is that Valentine gave parchment hearts to soldiers and Christians who were persecuted to remind them of their vows and of the love of God.
A Roman festival
A history writer at bestessays.com says that it is likely that Valentine’s Day could have originated with an attempt to “Christianize” the Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was held in mid-February. This festival was held to celebrate the beginning of spring.
The Roman priests would gently slap the women and the crops with a goat’s hide dipped in blood to make them more fertile in the year to come. Later in the day, the single women would place their names in an urn and the single men would choose a name of a woman to pair up with. These matches often resulted in marriage.
Lupercalia survived the rise of Christianity but Pope Gelasius 1 replaced the festival with St. Valentines Day in the 5th century.
The modern celebration
It seems that the modern celebration that includes the exchange of cards, flowers and gifts came out of England and then spread to the rest of the world. It was only in the early to mid-19th century that commercialized Valentine’s cards were given and in the mid-to-late 20th century, that gift-giving became popular.
Another history and religion writer for ‘thesis writing service’ says that the traditions and even the date of Valentine’s Day vary from country to country. In many countries, it is a celebration of romantic love. For single people who really want to get married, Valentine’s Day can be an unpleasant reminder of their single status. For others, it is a day to express love to all their family and friends.
Should Christians Celebrate Valentines?
Some Christians believe that due to the Pagan origins of the day, they should not celebrate it. They believe the festival has its roots in lust, eroticism, and fertility rather than in love. We are all familiar with Cupid, the young boy who holds his bow and shoots heart-shaped allows. To many, he is an icon of romance and cuteness but others who know the history are aware that he represents the ancient Roman god of desire and erotic love.
Check out and listen how you can make this day an opportunity for Valentines Singleness.
Another reason some Christians choose not to celebrate Valentine’s Day is because of its commercialism. Not everyone can afford roses, boxes of chocolates, or costly gifts. Many people believe they have to purchase expensive gifts to express their love when Christians are very aware that it’s the underlying attitude that matters more.
Some Christians may prefer not to make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day because they know it can bring up hurtful emotions in single people, those going through a divorce, or widows.
Other Christians believe there is nothing wrong with expressing love with cards and gifts on Valentine’s Day. After all, Christians are called to express their love at all times and in many different ways. They believe that even if Valentine’s Day did originate with a pagan festival, it has moved far away from those pagan roots, and in its present form, it is an expression of love rather than lust.
As the holiday does not fall into the category of a religious one, it is between individual Christians and God as to whether to celebrate it or not.
There are diverging views amongst Christians about whether they should celebrate Valentine’s Day or not. So many different stories exist about its origins, either connecting it to the name of Valentine, or to a pagan festival. Those who have doubts about whether to celebrate it need to look at the Scriptures and examine their own conscience. If you and your romantic interest want to enjoy Valentine’s Day, it’s up to you.
Justin Osborne is a writer. He loves to share his thoughts and opinions about education, writing, and blogging with other people on different blogs and forums.