Couples around the world will commemorate Valentine’s Day by giving flowers, jewelry, candy, and cards to their significant others. Around 1 billion valentines will be mailed this year. Despite being such a popular holiday, few understand Valentine’s Day’s roots. Is it just a gimmick to drive consumerism or is there a deeper meaning behind February 14th?
The history of Valentine’s Day is actually very interesting, but I promise to keep it brief. What I found: understanding the roots of Valentine’s Day will heighten its significance for married couples and provide more opportunities to celebrate and grow closer. Who doesn’t want a good reason to celebrate?!
A Brief History of Valentine’s Day
The origins of Valentine’s Day are foggy, with details lost over millennia of lore and legend. There are two main theories:
Lupercalia was a pagan fertility festival that took place in Ancient Rome between February 13-15. Basically, Romans would dance around a cave and perform creepy rituals in hopes of triggering health and fertility for springtime. Some believe the church placed St. Valentine’s Day around the same time as the festival in order to Christianize it. Most historians agree, however, that its’ date is simply a coincidence.
Lupercalia doesn’t appear to have anything to do with modern Valentine’s Day (though some consider it a valid contender).
2: The Saints Valentine
The early church originally instated Valentine’s Day to celebrate two or three martyred saints that bear the name Valentine. The earliest records of the holiday had no romantic roots whatsoever. However, in early Rome, Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers, so they outlawed marriages of young men.
One account states that Valentine performed secret marriage ceremonies despite the unjust decree. It’s said that Valentine would cut hearts from parchment and give them to soldiers and persecuted Christians to “remind them of God’s love and to encourage them to remain faithful Christians”. However, as with most ancient accounts, we have an idea of what happened without absolute evidence.
Starting to feel romantic yet?
Even with this connection to marriage, Valentine’s Day remained entirely unromantic until Geoffrey Chaucer (a true poetry legend) wrote about his so-called “love birds” convening on Valentine’s Day in a poem meant to commemorate the engagement of King Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. Though it seems unlikely that Chaucer was referring to the February 14th holiday exactly (birds wouldn’t hook up in February in England – way too cold), it marks the start of our romantic association with Valentine’s Day.
Deeper meaning, deeper purpose.
So, what’s the point? This history lesson doesn’t seem appropriate for Fierce Marriage…
Here’s my angle: let’s not go through the motions this Valentine’s Day. Life is busy, and it seems so commercialized – sure. But remember why Valentine’s Day exists and it becomes more meaningful.
Let’s take it as an opportunity to consider our spouses an unmeasurable blessing and remind them of their worth. Imagine not being allowed to marry because of persecution. We get to spend valuable time with our husband/wife doing anything we can imagine – dreaming, traveling, laughing, and loving TOGETHER.
Valentine’s Day is a fresh reminder that we are unbelievably blessed to be married. That’s what this holiday has come to mean for me – and it’s plenty of motivation and reason to express my love for Selena in creative ways.
5 Creative and Inexpensive Valentine’s Day Ideas
- Write a poem or a song. When is the last time you wrote something creative? Not poetic at all? Even better.
- Cook something new. Get creative with dinner and save $100 in the process! The internet is amazing – use it to find something interesting to try for dinner. And don’t take yourself too seriously – have fun.
- Do something you’ve never done together. Never been ice skating together? Maybe it’s time to try!
- Treasure hunt. Be clever and think up a treasure hunt with clues and all! Maybe orchestrate a stop at a few romantic spots around town, and end with candles on a rooftop somewhere… who knows?
- Acts of service. Sometimes a completed chore is better than anything else. (And throw in a Haiku while you’re at it)
- BONUS Idea. It is Valentine’s Day, and you are married… Set aside some time and energy to be intimate (hint: sex). Do something different – light some candles and set the stage. Use your imagination and keep it interesting. Remember, sex is a blessing and a celebration.
Ryan and Selena Frederick blog at fiercemarriage.com, a place to help couples process through marriage’s trials as well as celebrate its joys. You can follow them on Twitter at @FierceMarriage.
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