On a Valentine’s Day many years ago, I remember our grade school party. My valentine box was covered in aluminum foil, a large red construction paper heart and a white doily on the top where a slit had allowed my classmates to deposit their cards to me. I was so pleased with my beautiful box and with the valentines inside that I would later read at home. Soon the Homeroom Mother was doling out beautiful heart shaped cookies and punch.
Valentine’s Day may bring to mind similar images or others associated with candy, flowers, romantic dinners. However, its celebration originated from the dreadful executions of two men in the third century. During his reign, Emperor Claudius II ordered the deaths of the men, both named Valentine, in different years but both on February 14. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of Valentine’s Day.
One of the men who was killed was Valentine of Rome. His offense? He had given succor to persecuted Christians. There is some suggestion that Saint Valentine also performed clandestine Christian weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry due to an edict attributed to Claudius II. Allegedly the emperor believed that married men did not make good soldiers.
According to Wikipedia, Saint Valentine supposedly wore a purple amethyst ring, “customarily worn on the hands of Christian bishops with an image of Cupid engraved in it, a recognizable symbol associated with love that was legal under the Roman Empire; Roman soldiers would recognize the ring and ask him to perform marriage for them. Probably due to the association with Saint Valentine, amethyst has become the birthstone of February, which is thought to attract love. It is legend that Saint Valentine, to remind people of their vows, gave hearts cut from parchment to soldiers and persecuted Christians. Perhaps this is the origin of the heart symbol we use today for Valentine’s Day.”
For many people this is a less than festive day, however. What if you have no “special someone”? Or your “special someone” is no longer with you for whatever reason? All of us can appreciate the reminder to be aware of others who find little to celebrate in this holiday . But we can also acknowledge how consequential it is to be grounded within ourselves such that those times when we feel lonely or isolated or unloved, we are sustained. As an anonymous author once wrote, “Of all the people you will know in a lifetime, you are the only one you will never leave nor lose.” May you feel love and connection to all those that matter to you. But above all, I urge you to nurture and celebrate the most important valentine: You.
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate
Hope’s Café Bonus: “For you cannot live in someone else. You cannot find yourself in someone else. You cannot be given a life by someone else. Of all the people you will know in a lifetime, you are the only one you will never leave nor lose. To the question of your life, you are the only answer. To the problems of your life, you are the only solution.” ~~ Author Unknown ~~