February fourteenth is rooted in history and grounded in tradition, but why just one day? And why, typically, just one person?
Every day can be Valentine’s Day whether you’re in a relationship or not, if you just pay attention to a few details and know history.
No one knows for sure the exact history of Saint Valentine, but a few theories emerge from the Catholic Church.
- He was a priest who defied the Roman Emperor’s decree that certain men couldn’t marry; single men made better soldiers. He secretly married young lovers until he was put to death.
- He helped Christians escape Roman prisons where they were brutally tortured and beaten.
- He was a man who was imprisoned and sent letters, the last before his death, signed “From your Valentine,” to a woman of his affection.
The important point to note is that Valentine’s qualities were sympathy, heroism and with the exception of the last theory, the love for others, instead of only one person.
What is your history, your earliest memories and subsequent patterns surrounding Valentine’s day?
Mine originate in the first grade, arriving early into the warm room from the Wisconsin winter with a boxful of valentines made out for every person in the class. I was excited delivering them to each desk (a time was made during the class so we could all do this) and I eagerly anticipated all the ones I’d get in return. Over the next couple years, occasionally, some thought was given to finding that special paper valentine for that one special boy and secretly yearning to get one from him in return, but the joy of giving to all and getting from all was the primary focus.
Fast forward fifteen years, and Valentine’s Day instilled either hope and pleasure when I was in a relationship, or it became a source of envy, jealousy, even occasionally, misery, emphasizing my aloneness. In San Francisco one Valentine's Day, I walked by a crowded restaurant where animated couples stood in the alcove waiting for their turn to be called into the darkened, loving atmosphere to dine on wine, scrumptious food, and deserts of desire. I pulled my coat closer around me and hoped no one noticed me wearing my single dejection.
In retrospect, this was ludicrous.
The day hadn’t changed, the purpose hadn’t changed, but I had. I no longer wished many a happy Valentines Day with something special from myself, but instead focused on what I didn’t have and because of that I didn’t give to myself either—a special gift or time to be with myself and just honor who I was and what I did have. I was focused on lack. And I repeated this pattern for many years.
This Valentine’s Day and every day, celebrate the people in your life who support and love you, celebrate the progress you make in life as you grow and move through your days, and reflect on your history—you’re bound to repeat patterns that may not be serving you well if you don’t.