I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I have a tendency to verbally shred apart holidays as celebrated by America (and else where). I think one of my most viewed blog posts is my angry letter to Santa Claus. People are still reading it weekly? I've already gone off at the way we "celebrate" Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We all know I do not celebrate Halloween (that needs a post. Remind me in October). And I have plenty more holidays I could go off at (Easter: lets celebrate Jesus, as we also dye some eggs and think about bunnies. Things established for Beltane, the ancient Spring festival of the druids; Saint Patrick's Day: let's drink ourselves into a stupor as we think about the Saint who brought Christianity to Ireland. Sounds a little off, friends...).
But today I am about to wreck your view of Valentine's Day. Because I, Isabella Kiss, am a killjoy. And a realist. Passionate and ardent as them come and wholly unable to sugar coat anything, ever.
Quick! What comes to mind when I say Valentine's?
If your answer involves anatomically incorrect hearts, boxes of chocolate, or lingerie, you lose.
I would think you have all heard of Saint Valentine, yes? (and no, he is not the little naked fellow with a bow and arrow. That is Cupid. I know people tend to confuse them...). I am not entirely sure how a holiday supposedly commemorating him turned into *THIS* but...here is his story. (read this article and this article before writing mine. Checked others to get my facts correct. Then summarized in my own sardonic way)
Once upon a time,(a time that was actually 270 AD not some fantasy realm time), in Rome a cranky emperor named Claudius banded marriage. Short reason as to why? His soldiers missed their families when at war, and he saw that as a weakness. To fix this issue the smartypants Claudius banned marriage altogether, for everyone (makes sense, right!? Uh...). Next our man Claudius went and banned Christianity (he was on a roll, why not?). The guy basically thought he was so awesome he should be a god.
A rebel of the times (oh I love me a rebel!), a Christian bishop named Valentine (*cue looks of enlightenment upon your faces) decided he greatly disagreed with Emperor Claudius' laws. Being the radical he was, he decided he would preform clandestine marriage ceremonies for lovers (believing as Christians do that marriage was created by God), though it was against the law.
Valentine was found out, brought to Claudius, who tries to persuade him to change his ways and give all his allegiance to Rome and its gods but Valentine stood firm in his beliefs. He was sent to jail, to wait for his death sentence to be carried out. There he meets, prays for, converts to Christianity (and maybe falls in love with-this part is debated. Love as is gushing emotion? Or love as is "love thy neighbor?") the blind daughter of the jailer. Before he is sent to die she miraculously, by the power of God, receives her vision and can read his good bye note, reading "From your Valentine."
Then ardent, passionate and zealous (I just used my 3 favorite synonymous adjectives in one sentence, yes! Who cares about redundancy?) Valentine went an died for what he believed in. He would not deny his God, so Claudius had him killed. It took them three tries, three different methods, to kill this amazing man of God- beating, then stoning, and lastly decapitation.
His gruesome death occurred on the 14th of the month of February, 270 AD.
Saint Valentine was a martyr. I see there to be nothing romantic about being brutally killed because of your belief in God. I see that as passion. I see that as something to greatly respect. I see that as love for my Savior. But what I don't really see in there is what we now use Valentine's Day for. Okay, maybe it is a love story, and the poor blind chick has to watch him die after he gives her a really nice card. And yes, the whole marriage banning, secret matrimony session thing is romantic, I guess. But again that all ties back to his belief in God.
Of course somewhere along the lines we messed the holiday all up, like we always do. People like a reason to celebrate and like to take any excuse we can get, even if they don't really even know the purpose of their celebrating. There are many theories as to how the holiday evolved into what it is now but...point is it did. I mean, come on people, we call it Valentine's Day but we don't really acknowledge the original Valentine (a person, not a piece of paper) at all. If that was what we were really celebrating it would be a day of standing up for faith in God, unashamed, refusing to deny His existence or how he created us to live. But nope. We like to buy each other flowers and say mushy stuff, as we consume mass amounts of aphrodisiacs like chocolate. hmmm...
I know you are all thinking I am the biggest killjoy ever. I told you so! You probably also think I am utterly heartless. Not a problem, I've been accused of that many times before. But hold up. You're wrong. I'm not at all against love, as the Bible defines it. I am also not at all against celebrating it, or buying people things, or giving cards, or any of that. If you're in love, go ahead, CELEBRATE! That is WONDERFUL!
(ps: but if flowers and acts showing love are what you want and you only get them on the 14th of the second month of the year, I am slightly concerned for you. I don't at all like that we have to dedicate a certain day to make people acknowledge that they love each other. If he forgets the other 364 days of the year, he is a jerk ladies...)
I don't know if you can tell, but I get annoyed when people celebrate things as their culture tells them to. I refuse to blindly accept things. I refuse to not ask questions. I refuse to celebrate days set aside for specific people, especially when having to do with my Christian faith, by however it is my society says I should.(Call me crazy, call me ardent, call me a rebel. All true.) And I refuse to not give credit where credit is due. And if a guy, thousands of years ago, was martyred in the name of love for God and love for doing what pleases Him, I think that is worth giving credit to. Just sayin'...
*sigh. I digress.
So um... Go forth in the name of love? I love you, you love me, we're a happy family? Whatever floats your commercialized boats, people...
Happy (Saint) Valentine's Day, boys and girls.