What’s So Romantic about the Death of a Saint?

Well, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. Can you feel the bile emerging from the depths of your stomach? If not, you must be one of those mushy, romantic types.photo-3

Let’s see…what are you doing this year? Spending $5 on a generic paper card that says “I love you forever, oh unique lover”, similar to the one you bought for the last person you were dating two Valentine’s days ago. I’m sure this one will last.

Maybe you’re taking her to a very expensive prix-fixe dinner at some fancy restaurant where you will pay twice the amount as normal, and you have a reservation for 4:30PM or 10PM because by the time you remembered to call and book, every other reservation time was taken.

Perhaps, you finally remembered this year to order the flowers she likes. Did you get the long-stemmed red roses? I hope you’ve been saving some cash from each paycheck over the last month, because roses ain’t cheap, and they die quickly (poor choice to describe your love for her). But go ahead and make her happy for a couple of days.

OK, I promise I’m not a total Valentine’s sourpuss, but I do think the charade around this holiday is a tad bit (wayyyyyy) ridiculous. I suggest waiting until February 15th to go out to dinner—when prices are back to normal, and restaurants aren’t crowded with tables of twos and obnoxious balloons. Oh, and be original. That box of processed chocolates you picked up from CVS on your way home from work is not original. It’s processed, and the chocolates taste like plastic.

The main question I have for the throngs of young lovers swooning over each other on the 14th of February every year is this: What exactly is so romantic about the death of a Saint?

I’m referring to Saint Valentine, the mysterious person(s) for whom this day of corporate Hallmark is named after. There is not a real solid story for Mr. Valentine, other than we know there were several saints recognized by the Catholic Church who had the name, Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom, by the way, were martyred.

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who continued to perform marriages even though Emperor Claudius II outlawed them. Claudius had decided that men made better soldiers when silly things such as marriage and children did not tie them down, so he outlawed marriage. Valentine defied him, and was subsequently put to death. DEATH. Enjoy that chocolate.

Another story says that Valentine may have helped Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were beaten and tortured. He was also killed for his heroism.

Lastly, a third rendition of the Valentine story says that he was imprisoned for whatever sins, and during his incarceration, he fell in love with a young girl who visited him frequently (possibly the jailor’s daughter, and possibly under-age). Before he was killed, he would send her love notes signed, “From your Valentine.” How sweet. Hallmark, get on it.

Alright, I get it that this guy was heroic and romantic, but the story is less than happy and heart-filled.

Another idea of the origin of Valentine’s Day is that it was placed in the middle of February by the Church to “Christianize” the population due to the fact that February 15th was the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a fertility festival to celebrate the Roman god of agriculture, Faunus. Sneaky Christians thought that if they placed a holiday to celebrate a Christian Saint right before a pagan celebration, perhaps people would be more interested in the former, and forget about the latter. I guess it worked, because I haven’t seen any “Happy Lupercalia” cards in the store recently (or ever).

Actually, Lupercalia was outlawed in the 5th Century when Pope Gelasius declared February 14th to be “Saint Valentine’s Day”. However, the day was not associated with love until much later.

It is estimated that there are 1 billion cards sent around Valentine’s Day worldwide, making it the second highest card-giving holiday behind Christmas. Suckers, I mean women, make up 85% of those card buyers.

Happy lovin’, lovers.


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