Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Many Splendored Thing

My son is in the process of making Valentines for everyone he knows. And their mothers. Literally. Every time he finishes one, his face lights up and he says, "Oh, and I can make one for ___!" He even made one for the dog across the street.

We talked about the many different stories there are of "St. Valentine," and how this person may well in fact have been several people lumped into one. Valentinus was said to have helped Christian couples get married in the way of their faith, at a time when Claudius Gothicus, the emperor of Rome, was persecuting Christians and anyone caught helping them was committing a crime. There are also stories that Valentinus was someone who was helping Roman soldiers sneak off and marry their loved ones, which was not allowed. Another possibility was that Valentine's Day was invented solely to distract from the pagan holiday of Lupercalia (a Roman festival celebrated from Feb. 13-15, celebrating the wolf who cared for Romulus and Remus), in much the same way as the dates of many other holidays were chosen.

Whatever the roots of Valentine's Day, it's a day to celebrate love. Not just the love you might have for someone else, but for the love of all people, and the freedom of people to celebrate their love, and not feel like they have to hide it. I would encourage you to help your kids see Valentine's Day not as a day to go out and buy chocolates and $100 roses and candy hearts, not as a day to feel sad they maybe they don't have someone to celebrate with, but as a day to celebrate the love they feel for their friends and family, to appreciate the people they DO have in their lives. And maybe even to think about others around the world, and how we can show our love for all people, not just the ones closest to us.

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