Who was St. Valentine and why do we celebrate love on the day we've set aside to remember him? Valentine was a priest who lived in Rome during the reign of Emporer Claudius. He was know for his kindness and selfless love. He was arrested for his faith and imprisoned, but managed to send and receive letters from his friends and fellow Christians. Emporer Claudius tried to convert him to Roman paganism to spare his life, but Valentine shared the Gospel with the emporer instead. Before he was martyred for his faith in Jesus, he healed the eyes of his jailor's blind daughter.
In the Late Middle Ages, when courtly love and romance became the rage throughout Europe, St. Valentine's Day became associated with love and romance. Both romantic love and Christian martyrdom are things to celebrate. St. Valentine stands in the "great cloud of witnesses," in Hebrews 12, cheering us on! St. Valentine's Day can be celebrated in either direction, or both directions. We can celebrate the romantic love we share with our sweethearts or we can remember those who have given their lives for the Gospel of Christ.
If we are celebrating St. Valentine's Day with our sweetie, there are many options. He, of course, can buy us a dozen long-stemmed roses and a big box of Godiva chocolate. We can go out to a lovely dinner and gaze into each other's eyes. But, of course, those things cost money. So, what are some inexpensive ways to celebrate the romance you share with your husband? Here are some things Mike and I have done:
- Pack china, crystal goblets, a tasty lunch, and sparkling grape juice. Go on a picnic in a pretty spot. Bring a beautiful comforter to sit on and be careful with the china and crystal!
- Buy a package of Valentines for children. Write little notes to your husband on each one and hide them throughout the house. Make most easy to find, but hide some so that they won't be found until later
- Make a CD of romantic songs and dance outside on the patio in the moonlight
- Make a scrapbook of your relationship from its conception until now. Look at it together.
- Tell your children how you met, how your husband proposed, and other fun stories. Your children will love this!
- Wait until the children are in bed and have a romantic dinner by candlelight ALONE!
- Read old love letters out loud to each other!
My husband, Mike and I go out to celebrate St. Valentine's Day on a different night and celebrate the actual holiday as a family. I set the table with china, lace, candlelight, our best silver, and flowers. We always include some singles that are unattached in our celebration. At each place, I put a card from me and a tiny heart shaped box of candy. When a sister in the Lord is really going through a hard time, I may visit her at work and bring flowers too! My children have made many Valentine's Day cards for single sisters who were hurting on this day.
Now, we go all out on St. Valentine's Day! My grandmother gave me a heart-shaped pan and we always bake a cake or giant cookie in it. We also make heart shaped cookies. I try to serve lots of pink and red in the meal too: beef or ham, rice with red peppers in it, strawberries in the salad or dessert, and pink lemonade to drink!
Celebrating St. Valentine's Day with my children has always involved baking heart-shaped desserts and making handmade cards. It's the one time a year, we get out the rubber stamps, embossing powder, and calligraphy pens. What delight we take in making something special to communicate our love!
As with all holidays, this is a time to focus on others with love and compassion. After all, we are celebrating the day in memory of someone who risked his life to communicate the love and freedom found in Christ.
Happy Valentines Day to each of you! With love!
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)