Give Meaning: The Origins of St. Valentine
Valentine’s Day embodies love and romantic sentiments, and for children, it is also a fun day of treats and candy exchanges. Find out some of the origins of this holiday, and how we can celebrate God’s love with children on Valentine’s Day.
Valentine the Man
There are different accounts of the events involving the actual St. Valentine, but most agree on a few basics. Valentine existed around 270 AD, under the reign of Claudius II in the Roman Empire. As Claudius II was building up the Roman army, he believed that married men, or men with families, would not make good soldiers. Also during this period, Christians often faced persecution. Valentine was said not only to have performed secret marriages during this time, but he also attended to Christians. Valentine was eventually found out and jailed. During his sentence, Valentine is also said to have healed the blind daughter of his jailor, Asterius. Whether he performed a saintly miracle or not is disputed among different Christian accounts, but Asterius’ daughter did seem to heal under the care of Valentine.
When Valentine was brought before Claudius II, the latter is said to have been impressed with him. However, because Valentine disagreed with the marriage ban, refused to recognize the Roman gods, and even attempted to convert Claudius II to Christianity, Valentine was sentenced to death on February 14th. Some say that while in jail, Valentine had grown close with Asterius’ daughter. There is debate whether this was a romantic love or a Christian love, but, Valentine is said to have written a note to the daughter before his execution, signing it, “Your Valentine.”
Valentine has since been celebrated by the church for his dedication to Christianity and his acts of faith.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s 700-line poem written in the late 1300s, “Parlement of Foules” (also, “Parliament of Fowls”) is one of the first credited with associating Valentine’s Day with lovers, although a particular line in the poem actually refers to a bird choosing his mate. The Middle Ages’ concept of courtly love, involving nobility and chivalry also developed through literature in the 11th-13th centuries, helped propel the idea that Valentine’s Day is sanctioned for love.
Cupid and the Modern Valentine’s Day
Cupid has mythological origins and was known for his ability to make people fall in love with a shot from his arrows. As Valentine’s Day became more centered around love, Cupid then became one of the iconic symbols for Valentine’s Day.
By the 18th century, Valentine’s Day was solidified as a holiday for love, and handwritten valentine notes were popular. By the mid-1800s, commercially made Valentines were in production in both Britain and America. Cards were often printed in color, embossed and some adorned with ribbons and lace.
Celebrate God’s Love on Valentine’s Day
Although Valentine’s Day has become a day of affectionate expression between loved ones, friends, and family, invite your children to pledge their love to Jesus as well. Remind children that God loves us; “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9
To help reinforce this connection for children, Egglo has provided a Valentine’s craft about love, and highlighting God’s centrality in love. Download the craft here!
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 Children will also benefit specifically from these verses, as it teaches us to love one another; and by doing so, we are also loving God.
Check our blog and activities to celebrate all of your holidays with Egglo Entertainment and help keep children connected to the light of Jesus. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”’ John 8:12