year on February 14 we peruse the store shelves for the perfect gift or card
for a loved one. According to Hallmark, more than 163 million cards—not
including packaged kids’ valentines—are exchanged. And it’s not just an
American phenomenon. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the
United Kingdom, France, Australia, Italy and Denmark.
But why? How did this holiday of love and romance originate and, more importantly,
how did St. Valentine become involved? The answers to those
questions are not easy ones. Valentine’s Day is a holiday
shrouded in mystery and legend.
The origins of St. Valentine’s Day lie in the ancient Roman
fertility festival Lupercalia, which
was celebrated on February 15. During the festival, young women would place
their names in a large urn. The young men would draw a name from the urn and
then be romantically linked with that young woman for the following year. Still
other legends cite the fact that February 14 marked the date when birds began
Will the Real St. Valentine Please Stand Up?
The practice of writing letters has been around for a long time.
In fact, the Bible is filled with letters—to the Romans, the Corinthians, Timothy,
Letters can be used to inform, scold, praise, entertain or endear.
The U.S. bishops write letters to presidents, policymakers and others to help
make the Church teachings and positions known. Individual bishops write letters,
too, to their people to inform and encourage them. People write letters to members
of Congress to weigh in on certain legislative issues. When a network announces
it will be canceling a popular television program, what is often the first course
of action? A letter-writing campaign.
Letters can also serve as lifelines for loved ones separated by
distance, war, employment and many other circumstances. Or they can help bridge
a gap between people who may be fighting or are estranged, and just aren’t ready
to speak face-to-face.
Spread a Little Love
Valentine’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to let the people
in your life know how much you love and care about them. Here are some ways you
can express your love on this special day:
Use heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut
out your kids’ sandwiches for lunch. Draw hearts or place heart stickers on
their lunch bags. And don’t forget to add a note telling them how much you love
them and why. You can also do the same thing for your husband or wife.
One year I surprised my husband on
Valentine’s Day by filling his car with red balloons. I attached a note to each
of the balloons highlighting something I love about him.
Have the kids help you bake
heart-shaped cookies and deliver them to grandparents, neighbors, residents of
a nursing home or anyone else you think might enjoy receiving a treat.
Focus on the true meaning of
Valentine’s Day. Aside from the cards, gifts, etc., the purpose of the day is
to let those we care about know we love them. This Valentine’s Day, tell family
members and friends just how much they truly mean to you.
Next Month: Why Do We Get Ashes?