Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentine's Day Traditions

I am a wife. I am my husband's sweetheart....and he is mine. :)

But I am also a Christian. And as such, I should be known by my discernment and should be asking questions regarding everything that comes into (or out of) my life and my home. Having said that, it brings me to next weeks' holiday. Valentine’s Day.

What IS Valentine's Day, anyway? It is so easy to fall into step with the rest of mankind and follow their customs and traditions without ever pausing a moment and asking ourself, "Why AM I doing these things?" It's so easy! So because I want to be intelligent and "in the know" about everything I participate in, I did some studying. And below is what I have discovered. I hope, just as they answered my questions, I pray they can answer the questions you may have -- and, indeed, I hope you DO ask questions about the customs you practice as well.

* What is the origin of Valentine's Day? Like most holidays, Valentine's Day goes WAY back. In the days of the Roman Empire, the month of February was the last and shortest month of the year. February originally had 30 days, but when Julius Caesar named the month of July after himself, he decided to make that month longer and shortened February to 29 days while making July a month of 31 days. Later, when Octavius Caesar (also known as Augustus) came to power, he named the month of August after himself and, not be outdone, he also subtracted a day from February and gave the month of August 31 days. We can see that it's still that way today. The ancient Romans believed that every month had a spirit that gained in strength and reached its peak of power in the middle of the month. This was usually the 15th day, and it was a day when witches and soothsayers worked their magic. Since February had been robbed by the Caesars and had only 28 days, it became a very important pagan holiday in the Empire of Rome. The sacred day of February 14th was called "Lupercalia" and on that day, they worshipped the goddess Juno, Queen of the Roman gods and goddesses and known as the goddess of love and fertility. On February 15, the Romans celebrated Luperaclia, honoring Faunus, their god of fertility. Men would go to a grotto and would sacrifice a goat, don its skin, and run around, hitting women with small act which was supposed to ensure their fertility.

Then the Catholic church stepped in and, as is their custom, "Christianized" the holiday. Today, the Catholic church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. And, oddly enough, they are recognized on February 14. In an effort to conform, compromise, and put a "Christian" stamp of approval on the pagan Lupercalia festival, they glazed over the celebration of lust and fertility and chose to celebrate on that day as well, using the excuse of their martyrs. Make no mistake. It was done intentionally.
Where did Cupid come from? The little baby in a diaper that shoots people with arrows, dipped in a love potion, and makes them fall in love. Sounds like made-up, harmless fun. But it isn't. In Roman mythology, Cupid is a Roman god of passionate love. He is the son of Venus who is the goddess of love and beauty. Again, it is no mistake that he is a primary symbol that dons our Valentine's Day cards and candy.

What is the origin of Valentine cards? I remember, as a little girl, exchanging Valentine's Day cards with friends. We would count them up and, hopefully, have more than everyone else. I remember receiving plenty of "be mine" notes. But....where did that custom come from? Now I know. Remember the above, when on February 15, men would go to a grotto, sacrifice a goat, wear its skin and whip women to ensure their fertility? Well AFTER that, the young women would gather in the city and their names were put into boxes. This was called a "lottery" and these “love notes” were called “billets.” The men of Rome would draw a billet, and the woman whose name was on it became his sexual partner with whom he would play erotic games and fornicate until the next "Lupercalia"....or February 14th. And it was all done in honor of Juno, the goddess of "love"....though "lust" is more what it looks like.

Sadly, THAT is the origin of the, seemingly harmless, "Be my Valentine" tradition.

Obviously, it wasn't about fidelity and true, agape love that 1 Corinthians 13 speaks of. It wasn't even about marriage. The whole thing was to honor pagan gods of fertility and the "love" of the flesh. February 14th - and 15th - became a time of unbridled sexual lust.
So there is some information concerning Valentine's Day and its origins and traditions. I pray that you will take this information and pray and ask the Lord how you should respond. Then obey.


Lisa said...

Mhmmm.. We still do a little something (VERY quietly) for each other on Valentine's Day...but you are right... We need to examine the roots of EVERY holiday (Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's, etc.) to know what it is all about. Our kids won't be banned from Valentine's -- but they will be taught to avoid certain things ABOUT Valentine's because of their VERY pagan origins. And for the most part...we will just try to ignore making a huge deal about it. We are told to love one another on every day...not just focus it on one out of 364 days!

Jennifer said...

It is SO important for us to understand the background behind the "celebrations" we involve ourselves in! I have read a few different versions of the history of Valentine's Day, most of them very similar to the one you have shared here. It is a shame that the world puts so much emphasis on the charade of it all. Hearts and candy on Valentine's Day, eggs and bunnies on Easter, Shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day, Turkeys on Thanksgiving, presents and santa on Christmas.

As with any other holiday, Mike and I take the bells and whistles with a grain of salt on Valentine's Day. Do I make a heart shaped cake, of course... but it's not the only day of the year I make a cake for my loved ones to let them know they're loved. Mike does spoil me in some way or another with a gift, but he has a tendency to do that for any occasion he can get an excuse to do so.

The hearts come with Valentine's Day just as the tree and ornaments come with Christmas. Both have pagan origins, so we have to focus instead on what the "holiday" means for us personally. While New Years Day is spent by some establishing goals for their upcoming year, we use Valentine's Day as a way to establish goals in our relationships. Our kids tell each other what they're going to work on in their brother/sister relationships to make them closer and stronger siblings, Mike and I choose an area of focus and set goals that bring us and our love closer and stronger, and we always take a treat to our parents, acknowledging the loving honor we still have for them as grown adults.

While holidays like Halloween have nothing that can be linked to Christ, Valentine's day can. Love... it's the foundation of our salvation. We were loved so much, Christ was sacrificed that we may know ultimate love. Forget those bells and whistles that are man-made commercialized creations... they just can't compare.

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