Valentine’s Day – for love, romance or martyrs?
by Judy Bushy
Sometimes we all need a little extra dose of love, so it is very appropriate that today we celebrate Valentine’s Day!! (Happy Camp High School staff and students were very grateful for no school holiday on Monday for Lincoln’s Birthday as well!!
Pope Gelasius named the day in honor of the martyrdom of Saint Valentine and it wasn’t the romantic emphasis of today when 25% of the greeting cards for a year are sold at Valentine’s day. I suspect that most of those are fancy romantic valentines, and the other packages of dozens for school children to share with the entire class. Even today, many of the school children, and greeting card hobbyists will make their own—truly a special card to receive from a friend.
Historically, there were two men named Valentine and were beheaded on February 14th . Legend had it that a priest, Valentine, married couples against the command of the Roman Emperor Claudius II which led to his martyrdom. They identified him by a purple Amethist ring that he wore. Other stories tell how he befriended the blind daughter of his jailer, “Asterius and before his execution wrote a letter to her signed “Your Valentine”. He may have died February 14, 269, and Julia supposed to have planted a flowering almond tree at his grave.
However, it wasn’t until 18th century England when lovers began the tradition of gifts of flowers, confections (chocolates) and greeting cards. A nursery rhyme book from Gammer Gurton’s Garland from 1784 included: “The rose is red, the violet’s blue, the honey’s sweet, and so are you. Thou art my love and I am thine; I drew thee to my Valentine: The lot was cast and then I drew and fortune said it shou’d be you.
How unimaginably sad, that in the twenty-first century we have more martyrs of Christians in the world than any time since then. Last October a study was published on proliferation of martyrdom over the past century. Currently around the world, more than 200 million Christians are threatened because of their faith in more than half (105 of 190) of the nations in the world. There have been more Christian martyrs in the 20th and 21st centuries than since the first century.
Last week, Senator Marco Rubio, from Florida spoke out with a plea for civility, a warning that if civilized debate dies in the Senate, it will die in the broader society too. * “I don’t know of a civilization in the history of the world that’s been able to solve its problems when half the people in a country absolutely hate the other half of the people in that country. . . We are reaching a point in this republic where we are not going to be able to solve the simplest of issues because everyone is putting themselves in a corner where everyone hates everybody…What’s at stake here tonight is …the ability of the most important nation on earth to debate in a productive and respectful way the pressing issues before it.” One grows so tired of the lack of genuine debate and much name-calling, vilifying anyone with whom one disagrees! It seems to be the worst on social media, but is seen so much more commonly everywhere these days!